Coming this fall on a streaming service near you: Join the crew of the Marinara 7, the latest interplanetary spacecraft from X-Space, as it rockets into the solar system with a nutty crew of flight attendants desperately trying to keep the passengers entertained on the seven-month journey to Mars.
There’s Mindee (Erin Rollman), the exasperated rule-follower fruitlessly trying to keep the rest of the batty crew in line. Meet Shep (Erik Edborg), the bug-eyed nervous Norman always on the watch for pending disaster. And there’s Rosie (Hannah Duggan), the zany singing “stewardess” who takes the mission about as seriously as the next Lauren Boebert Tweet. And don’t forget Shirley (Brian Colonna), the cynical doomsayer unafraid to call out the insanity and inanity of the whole enterprise. In the background, SamAnTha Schmitz is running sound and arguing with the space center about Colonna’s headband wardrobe malfunction.
That’s what Buntport Theater’s latest offering reminded me of: a sitcom in the not-too-distant future capitalizing on the rush to recruit untrained rubes into some billionaire’s ego-driven space project. There are a few differences: The performance isn’t on Netflix or Hulu; it’s in the parking lot of Buntport’s space on Lipan & 7th in Denver — y’know, between the RTD maintenance yard and Movemasters. The special effects aren’t quite George Lucas, but the troupe did manage to scare up some fairly legit space suits. (Although do they need to wear them inside the spacecraft? No matter.) Everything else is bargain-basement – just as Buntport fans like it.
If you’ve never been, Buntport is one of the Denver theatre community’s gems: a group of five fearless, inventive creatives who want to do theatre on their own terms. (Juliet Wittman has a great recent profile of the company in Westword.) With all this talk of Jeff Bezos and Elon Musk and Richard Branson looking to send lesser rich folk to Mars in the next few years, it was only a matter of time before Buntport took a run at such rich material.
It’s fun stuff, with lots of laughs and just the kind of goofy ride we can all use nowadays. My guest said her cheeks hurt from laughing and smiling — what better endorsement is there than than? From the moment the four crewmembers came out the front door of the theatre in slow-mo (The Right Stuff, get it?) until the end when … OK, no spoilers. But it all comes together in an hour-long dork-fest that everyone should see – twice. (Although the small, er, house might make for scarce ticket availability.)
Throughout the pandemic, Buntport has done solid work presenting shows. From the gloriously wack-a-doo Grasshoppers last June (another parking lot extravaganza) to the online Duggan-driven production of Cabaret Profundis, they’ve kept the lights on anyway they could.
So thanks, Buntport, for blowing more on the flame of live theatre in Colorado. You may be thinking you’ll move back into your fancy indoor space sometime soon, but is the parking lot really so bad?