An escape pod swirls around the void of space; within it are four members of an abandoned mother-ship, all from different walks of life; so sets the stage for “Jettisoned.” The staged reading of this play was performed last Saturday evening in the Rehearsal Hall. The nearness of the semi-circled seating arrangement allowed for a feeling of claustrophobia, inducing the sensations that the characters would have felt in an enclosed pod.
Any uncomfortable situation can be made better with ice breakers, or so the Captain (Taylor Vitelli), formerly the third mate, thinks. Two lies and a truth, and an adjective game serve not only as introductions to each other, but to the audience watching, helping the audience gain insight on the characters right from the start. Ellis (Dan Kropa) is the slacker type, and a consistent source of humor throughout, V’Tra (Kim Amar) is an alien from a foreign planet, and Bradley (Tommy Barbara) is the young son of a famed space captain.
A plethora of science fiction references and humor occupy the majority of the play, and major happenings include a run-in with an asteroid belt, board games and a humorous attempt to mask the first character to defecate, as the only facility is located directly in the center of the room.
While there is a lot of lighthearted amusement, the emotional core of the play comes near its finale as the audience learns that every character, in their own way, is lonely and underappreciated. We learn that Ellis managed to reach the escape pod by disobeying his duty as a ship security guard and more importantly, that his love for an android was not reciprocated; the robot used him for research purposes. This conjures feelings of guilt, isolation and lost love that adds an unexpected dimension to a character previously thought to be a go-to funnyman. V’Tra is the only one of her kind inhabiting the ship before it was attacked and overrun. The Captain, or Number Three, was essentially a low-level officer that had little distinction until everyone above her perished, leaving her in charge, and Bradley discovers that all of his lauded heroics were done by an android; he was only an item of amusement for the higher-ups.
Oftentimes in the science fiction genre, universal truths, although set in a different place and time, hit close to home. More than anything, the play is a character study, a look into the lives of four dissimilar beings inhabiting a small space after a devastating event.
Following the performance there was a talk-back with writer John Henry, director Nick Walsh and the cast. This gave everyone an opportunity to express their questions and get into the mind of the people involved. An entirely polished version of the play is in the works. The bones are more than formidable and what comes next is sure to be just as whimsical and inspired.