Billed as “a wild and sexy new space musical—for those who happen to be groovy,” Wild Space A Go Go is a funky and loving tribute to cliché 1960s sci-fi adventure movies. The hair is big, the boots are high and the farce is on-point.
Our heroine is special agent Barbarette Blade (compellingly played by Lisamarie Harrison), a beautiful but aging intergalactic spy who flees Earth and lands alone on Planet Tri-eX. This planet is entirely populated by shallow and sexually-charged virgin women called The Pretties. Their leader is Empress Pudanda (the fantastic Nichole Cooper), who notices Barbarette’s “feet of the crow” and “marks of the stretch” and swiftly sends her to the dimension of The Ugl-i.
After Barbarette’s banishment, a team of men sent from Earth to find and rescue Barbarette from her space adventure arrive on Planet Tri-eX, where they are mistaken for ugly women. Captain Buck Braddock (Don Colliver) is Barbarette’s boyfriend, Doc Rock (Matthew D. Pavik) is the president’s bodyguard and on this mission for no clear reason and Cadet Wally Wallace (Norman Wilson) is the token catty gay man with no real prestige or power.
Of course, when he and Barbarette accidentally switch bodies, Wally hatches an evil plan and bitterly refuses to return Barbarette’s mind to the body that pleases her lover. Wally’s character is so played-out that it’s hard to appreciate Wilson for what he gets right: His one scene of comedic sexual farce with Captain Buck.
The show-stealer, though, is Cooper, a Portland State senior. Her lines and songs are delivered with the attitude and hip-swivel of a great diva and it is hard to peel your eyes from her while she’s onstage.
Costuming and make-up design contribute to this, of course, as Brynne Marie has done an absolutely fantastic job of dressing her actresses in white vinyl boots, gold lame heels, catsuits, shift dresses, nighties, furry bikini tops and wigs.
Another notable performance comes from chorus member Stephanie Heuston. Her interaction with the audience and her obvious love of performance art makes her a key cast member despite her small role.
The script and songs for Wild Space A Go Go were developed over a three-year period by friends and colleagues Kurt Misar, Brad Beaver and J P Linde. Everything is original (though the creators do cite inspiration from the movie Barbarella) and the band Pars Orbitalis performs the musical numbers live. Embers’ has been transformed into a cabaret stage and features video projection, strobe lighting, fog machines and lasers—all perfect complements to the retro-futuristic mood.
The actors in this play are, for the most part, bona fide entertainers intent on capturing the audience’s attention and keeping it until the end. Their contagious enthusiasm helps you through the too-long performance, but the atmosphere helps too.
Embers Avenue is a bar, not a theater, and you may order as many alcoholic beverages and tater tots as you please during the two-and-a-half hour show. Seating is limited and restricted to bar tables, so show up early for an unobstructed front-and-center view. The bar is cash only, but there are two fee-based ATMs on site if you’re caught with your pants down and your wallet empty.