The Intergalactic Nemesis is described as a ‘live action graphic novel’, purporting to mix theatre, movies, music, and comics, all on stage in front of an audience. I think it does a pretty good job.
Based on radio plays of old, The Intergalactic Nemesis is presented by only six people. Three voice actors, one improvisational pianist, one foley (sound effects) artist, and one person who sits up the back and pushes the button to advance the slideshow behind the performers. While some positions, based on my descriptions, will seem more important than others, all six of them work together seamlessly to present a fun and exciting show.
Set in 1933, Project Earth (the first story in The Intergalactic Nemesis series of comics) follows Molly Sloane and her plucky kid sidekick Timmy Mendez, who team up with librarian Ben Wilcott to defeat aliens and discover a lot of secrets about themselves, each secret more surprising than the last.
As the performers, Rachel Landon (Sloane), Brock England (Mendez), and Christopher Lee Gibson (Wilcott) effortlessly portray their main characters, as well as a variety of side characters, all without missing a beat. I was very impressed in particular with Gibson, who seemed to have the most opportunities to talk to himself, slipping easily between characters through simple body language shifts. All three performers had excellent facial expressions, even from my seat I could tell just how the characters were feeling simply by looking at them.
However, to be fair, it was also easy (to a certain degree) to tell how the characters were feeling by taking a look at the enormous comic book display behind them. With over a thousand individual comic book slides, the story was advanced not just by the performers, but by the comic itself, looming over the crowd. While the art style was not necessarily comparable to fully coloured Batman or Iron Man comics, it was still sufficient to give the performance the visuals it needed to be exciting.
In addition to the performers and the comics, and probably the most exciting part of The Intergalactic Nemesis, foley artist Kelly Matthews presented all of the sound effects for the show. Foley is a fascinating art to me, and I spent much of my time focusing on how she would make the next sound effect. Her props ranged from simple (a miniature door, for creaking and slamming) to wacky (a whistle and a box of macaroni and cheese, for a train) to outright amazing (a rolling contraption of wood and fabric that perfectly captured the sound of wind across a snowy mountain), every moment of Matthews’ performance was amazing.
The only downside I found with the foley was that Matthews did use a soundboard for some of the more electronic noises (a buzzing of electricity, various alarms, etc.) which took me out of the immersion just a little bit. However, I was still enormously impressed with the variety of noises she could create, and any time I looked away from her to anywhere else onstage, I could have sworn I was really hearing what I was expected to hear.
Rounding out the performance was Harlan Hodges, the improvisational pianist. Trained as a jazz pianist, Hodges allegedly improvised the majority of the show’s score every performance, taking cues from the engagement of the audience and weaving them around the themes for each character. Hodges provided an excellent sense of atmosphere, and gave out little hints as to the heroes and the villains as each character was introduced, encouraging a cheer or a boo from the audience as the show progressed.
As a team, I was incredibly impressed with the performance from each person onstage. Apart from an extended out of character introduction that I felt was a bit too extended, I felt that the pacing of the show was a little slow, but still enjoyable, and I was always eager to find out more about the story. There are a lot of wow moments in the show, big twists or meaningful silences, often accompanied by laughs from the audience.
Coming to the end of the show leaves everything tied up, but for the eager reader (or listener, or watcher) there are more stories available to obtain on their website: http://www.theintergalacticnemesis.com/