Posted on Jul 23, 2013
5 out of 5
WELL! So that’s what “Outta Beer and Outta Space (A Redneck Galactic Adventure)” is. On Sunday, July 21st, the cast members at the Unicorn Jerome Stage pulled off a tizzy of a story for their wacky-minded playwright, Forrest Attaway, and their alleged genius director, Katie Gilchrist. The recommendation of this play shouldn’t be saved for the end of this review; just actually, yeah, stop reading this and go watch the play instead.
For those of you who have realized “Outta Beer and Outta Space” is probably currently not playing, we’ll gallop on down Review Lane together. The only technical aspect that is not quite right on July 21st is the completely-out-of-its-light placement of the car cut-out. Other than that, the minimal, but effective, lighting and set both accompany the show well and occasionally become the best part of it. The beers, the button, the costumes, and the game-show props all show significant ingenuity and creativity, but it’s too bad that some audience members who are sitting too close to the proscenium are left out of these jokes due to sometimes-ineffective proscenium blocking in Jerome’s thrust theater.
The writing and executing of this script are just so far above normal Fringe standards, it’s almost not fair to the other shows participating in the Fringe. That being said, some of the jokes may be a bit too big for the actors’ britches, given the amount of “I won’t laugh. I won’t laugh” moments that each actor has. Attaway’s script bounces joyously between moments of utter hillbilly outrageousness and subtle, smart quips. Usually, plays like this offer one, maybe two, characters who exhibit hilarity in the utmost sense. This play, however, is chalk-full of golden moments for everyone -- and they execute them with a boisterous quality that is rare amongst all individuals in a single play.
Both Phillip Russell Newman (Earl) and Nick Uthoff (Jeb) perform with complete confidence in both the hillbilly and brevity styles of humor (though, admittedly, Uthoff does hillbilly a little better than Newman). With Missy Fennewald doing hillbilly better than most actual hillbillies, she and Matt Leonard complete the ensemble. Leonard struggles to compete with the already-adored Jeb and Earl while he’s onstage, but almost nothing stops his vocal panache and timing whilst performing via microphone.
It could be said that, due to the short length of the production, it’s not quite worth a $10 ticket. It really does come off as a glorified SNL sketch because of its length as compared to most Fringe productions. But if the $10 choices are an hour-long piece of runny manure or a short-ish hilarious play, the latter gets the vote every time.