2013 has been the year of the Geek so far; super hero and sci-fi movies dominate the box office and the 50th anniversary of Doctor Who has generated a perfect storm of nostalgia and nerdiness that is almost omnipresent. It should come as no surprise that Greater Manchester Fringe play Suspended in Space draws its inspiration from this zeitgeist, and does so with razor sharp wit.
Written by Keith Temple (who also wrote Planet of the Ood for Doctor Who), Suspended in Space is a one-hour long stage play about three people trapped in a lift; a former TV super-star, an almost famous bit-part actor and a crazed fan boy. All of the characters have come to a convention thirty years after the last episode of fiction BBC sci-fi drama, Suspended in Space, a show that will be eerily familiar to anyone who’s ever watched an episode of Blake’s 7 or Doctor Who.
This sort of play requires powerful performances and a tight script in order to work, and Suspended in Space has both. Sean Mason puts in a powerful as the obnoxious fan Gregory, who is the sort of creature that will be familiar to anyone who’s ever been to a sci-fi convention. Mason combines a darkly comic sensibility with enough pathos to make for an endearing yet memorable character, and this works well with the bitter-sweet yet clownish performance from Dave Dutton, who plays the Vince, the show’s least popular star.
Every fandom has at least one actor who seems to be at every convention, and Vince is your archetypal has-been; a man who’s star has long since faded and is now scraping a living running off the fumes of past glories. Dutton goes to town on the role, turning in a highly engaging and incredibly skilled performance. The third character is that of Jen, a former lead actress who was once famed for playing a femme fatale and is now contemptuous of fanbase who will not let her forget the past. Actress Julia Nelson handles the key comic role superbly, playing off the energy of the other two character with a deft hand, allowing the show to flick from comic to tragic effortlessly and intelligently.
If you are in Manchester for the Fringe, this show is well worth your time. Be warned that tickets are very limited as it’s a small theatre space. For more information, check The Greater Manchester Fringe website.