By Byrne Harrison
There is a reason that the New York Neo-Futurists keep winning NY Innovative Theater Awards. To find out what that reason is, one only needs to attend a performance of their latest offering, Laika Dog in Space.
A breathtakingly original piece, Laika Dog in Space has at its core the story of Laika, a dog sent into space on Sputnik 2 in 1957 to find out if a living creature could survive launch. She was the first animal in space, and Earth's first space fatality. Added to this true story are elements from the late '60s television show "The Prisoner," and Antoine de Saint Exupéry's "The Little Prince." Featuring music, choreography, puppetry, audience interaction, cooking, a game show, an interactive set, and so much more, Laika isn't so much a play as it is a self-contained universe that the audience inhabits, not unlike Laika in her spaceship.
From the moment doors open at the Ontological-Hysteric Theatre, the audience members find themselves onstage. Encouraged by the three performers, Rob Neill, Eevin Hartsough and Jill Beckman, they can explore Lauren Parrish's interactive set. They can read about other famous dogs, learn a little Russian, send postcards, watch videos, and any number of other things. It's like being a kid on a really cool field trip.
Unlike plays that have a story that from point A to point B, Laika is hard to describe. It is more of a meditation about Laika, the space race, loneliness and community, and the fears and joys of modern life. That said, it is better simply to experience the show. Suffice it to say that the acting is strong, Dave Dalton's direction is outstanding, and the show is immediate and engaging. Featuring some great tunes from the Cake Monkeys (Carl Riehl - composer/accordian/keyboards, Gene Caprioglio - lead guitar, Devlin Goldberg - drums, and Scot Selig - bass), Laika will engage all your senses.
Laika Dog in Space is New York theatre at its best - engaging, creative and entertaining. Not to mention the fact that the actors make some pretty good borscht that they share with the audience at the end of the show.
Laika Dog in Space
Director: Dave Dalton
Writer/Performers: Rob Neill, Eevin Hartsough, Jill Beckman
Composer/Performer: Carl Riehl
Assistant Director/Stage Manager: Christopher Diercksen
Technical Director/Set Design: Lauren Parrish
Calm Voice/Sound Operator: Kara Ayn Napolitano
Costumer/Props: Meg Bashwiner
Choreography: Lauren Sharpe
Video Technician: Timothy Caldwell
Band (Cake Monkeys)
Lead Guitar: Gene Caprioglio
Accordion/Keyboards: Carl Riehl
Drums: Devlin Goldberg
Bass: Scot Selig
Laika Day - Adam Smith
The Visit -Travis Whitty and Erik Holman
Poem - Kyle Anderson
Poem: "Dog in Space" © Michael Waters
Short Film Director/Editor: Chris Stocksmith
Dioramas: Alicia Harding, Jen Leavitt, Lauren Sharpe, Adam Smith, Connor Kalista
Managing Director Intern: Charline Tetiyevsky
Marketing: Jen Leavitt
Marketing: Erica Livingston
Graphic Designer: Justin Tolley
St. Mark's Church
131 E. 10th Street at 2nd Ave.