The Ballad of Penelope and Marlin
Southern Edge Arts at Albany Town Hall until Sunday, July 18.
The Albany Town Hall isn’t quite the same as we remember.
To see Albany’s newest original play, you enter from the side at Grey Street, have your ticket checked, and climb shiny new steel stairs garnished with some kind of yellow and black striped tape.
Smiley actors wearing black and yellow costumes greet you along the way, in character — later you will learn they are called “Bee Bots”.
You are directed to tiered seats where the stalls used to be, and the stage area itself is also part of the old stalls. No one is sitting in the old gallery, which faces you. Clearly this is going to be something different.
Since home video became a thing, dystopian stories — stories set in a horrible future — have become fairly common, ranging from early efforts like Escape from New York to the hugely successful Matrix series.
However this is a musical, employing the language of vaudeville and burlesque, and the dramatic genre called farce — and yet it is not a comedy.
We want to laugh, but it is all designed to disturb us.
We are invited into the middle of this century, when most of the earth is too polluted to live in and a small number of people are nurtured in “Harmony Hive”.
“Human animals” kept in cells
Here, a few “human animals” are kept in cells where they are fed, given free internet entertainment, and have their physical and emotional needs attended to by androids called “Bee Bots”.
Harmony Hive is a refuge founded by two squabbling sisters with no consensus about its purpose.
However the main characters are Penelope, played by Plantagenet Players and Spectrum Theatre veteran Tahlia Robinson-Solczaniuk, and debut actor Luke Pascoe.
They are two young “human animals” living in Harmony Hive — Penelope has lived there all her life and Marlin stumbles in when he can no longer live in the polluted outside world.
Young actors shine
In an unusual opportunity for two young actors, they star in a production with original choreography and an original score by David Rastrick who also heads up the live trio.
While it is already half way through its season there are still several chances to see The Ballad of Penelope and Marlin on Thursday, Friday and Saturday evenings, and a Sunday matinée.
This is an opportunity to see some truly original musical theatre for just 25 bucks.
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