Spaceflight is replete with good intentions and good engineering going horribly wrong. In that sense, ‘Entropy’ now at Theatre of NOTE until 30 May 2015 is a reflection of the space race between the U.S. and the Soviets and the tenor of those times. The team is very good, with several NOTE stalwarts. The engineering is very good with a delightful three-part set stuffed into the company’s tiny black box. The stagecraft is very good with costumes, ingenious effects, visual puns, and precision timing. All to unfortunately little effect.
In his program notes, playwright Bill Robens asks rocket scientists (“They can be such snobs”) to relax and enjoy the celebration of those who risked so much to explore the unknown. It’s a fair request but there’s little return for the suspension of (dis)belief. Set in 1973, a U.S. space mission is diverted to address the discovery of a 16 year old self-aware Sputnik on the moon. Of course this has enormous local, geopolitical, and military consequences – U.S. and Soviet intelligence personnel get their mitts on a NASA mission exploring and exploiting green power technology (!)
There’s thrust aplenty. The cast is in full Saturn V mode, bellowing from five feet away. There’s a love triangle in mission control and one in the spacecraft. Even the two sloganeering cold warriors are really kindred spirits at the core. ‘Entropy”s problem is in guidance and navigation. There isn’t any and little good ever comes of that. Many, if not most, rocket scientists readily accept giant lasers, warp drive, sentient machines, and interspecies bumsen if the story goes somewhere or better, leaves lingering questions. This show is less a shot at the stars than a Scud launch that hopes to hit something. Anything.
So, why the title? There’s a short soliloquy just before intermission by the bespectacled poindexter (there’s always one of them in these things) about disorder and the Second Law of Thermodynamics. It’s possible to turn this into art, Stoppard did it with ‘Arcadia.’ If we pull a Rose Mary Woods, we can see how bodies in heat can thwart perfectly good equations in ‘Entropy’ as well. But is that ever a stretch. It’s no crime that ‘Entropy’ isn’t ‘Arcadia.’ Not many plays are and that clearly isn’t Robens’s intent. The aero and space businesses past and present are chock full of material for lampooning. To do that well requires some familiarity and possibly even affection for the thing being spoofed. Sadly neither is evident here although most of the audience were lapping it up vigorously. Perhaps they are not rocket scientists. NOTE has the people and smarts to pull off such an ambitious project but that fine line between clever and stupid is nowhere in sight.
Theatre of NOTE presents the World Premiere of ENTROPY Written by Bill Robens and Directed by Christopher William Johnson
Stage Managed by Aaron Saldaña, Assistant Stage Manager Kelly Jonske, Set Design by Krystyna Łoboda, Light Design by Brandon Baruch, Costume Design by Kimberly Freed, Sound Desgin by Corwin Evans, Prop Design by Richard Werner, Fight Choreography by Jen Albert, Puppet Design by Andrew Leman, Model Spaceship Construction by Fred Manchento, Graphic Design by Gene Michael Barrera
Produced for NOTE by John Money
Cast: Kjai Block, Brad C. Light*+, Rebecca Light+, Travis Moscinski+, Christopher Neiman+, Lynn Odell*+, Justin Okin*+, Trevor H Olsen*+, Alina Phelan, Nicole Gabriella Scipione*+, Wendi West+, David Wilcox+, Nicholas S. Williams+
at Theatre of NOTE 1517 N Cahuenga Blvd Hollywood, CA 90028
Previews April 17 & 18 @ 8PM Opens Friday, April 24 @ 8pm Performances thur May 30, 2015 Friday, Saturday @ 8PM Sunday @ 7PM
Tickets: $25 Seniors/Students $20 For tickets or information: www.theatreofnote.com