Soho Theatre, Soho, London, 07/08/2019.
Even while the audience are entering the venue George Vere is in character, rushing around handing out programmes and admonishing his cast for not having helped out enough, and once everyone’s sitting before we know it he’s launched in to a monologue explaining just what we’re about to see – a four years in the making science fiction epic that Vere stresses shouldn’t be in the Soho Theatre’s comedy section, it just has comic elements.
What follows is an hour of madness which is akin to what might have happened if William Shatner had been giving free rein to produce a musical stage version of Star Trek, with The Starship Osiris often paying affectionate homage to Gene Rodenberry’s classic sci-fi show as we follow the adventures of the devilishly handsome Captain Richard Harrison, a man who never fails to defeat his foes and seduce his female shipmates, even though he’s haunted by the death of his wife three moon cycles ago.
Much of the first half is an affectionate parody of some of the naffer elements of sixties sci-fi, as our Captain takes on various villains and risks life and limb to save his fellow man (or woman), and there’s also some cute songs about just how frickin’ amazing he is too. Occasionally there’s the odd break in character as Vere gets annoyed with some aspect of the play, normally relating to the performance given by Adam Willis as the ship engineer Evans, who’s clearly not happy at having to play someone who’s mocked not only by Vere but by the three female crew members too.
It’s the second half that makes this quite the special show however, the seeds were sown early on but soon at least one member of the cast is making it pretty damn clear how fed up they are with Vere, ad-libbing becomes the nature of the day and things start to look pretty grim for not only Captain John Harrison but for Vere as well. Saying anything further would only spoil the effect but it’s play which excels in generating a lot of laughs from absolute chaos.
This might not be the most original of ideas, of late there’s been a couple of films like One Cut Of The Dead where a fictional production goes all rather wrong, but it’s carried off beautifully with George Vere especially hilarious as the egotistical Captain / actor, while the rest of the cast are on top top form too, often getting a lot of laughs from a withering glance or intentionally bad bit of acting. The script sparkles throughout too, and if you’ve even the slightest bit of interest in parodies of sci-fi then this is without doubt a show you’ll love.