maxomai: dog (dog)
[personal profile] maxomai
I saw The Zoas: I Have Seen The Future! Wednesday night at The Secret Society. Basically, it's Welcome to Night Vale meets The Muppet Show, wherein we see the guts of a variety show on a network run by an evil, mad god. I was very impressed with what I saw, which isn't to say that it was all great. Which brings us to "The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly."

The good is twofold. First, this production showcases the substantial talents of the cast quite handsomely. Portland theater doesn't do this often enough. Matthew Feranda, Caitlin Nolan and Jennie Spada particularly shined. The second is that the writing is energetic, often weird, and very, very funny. The Night Vale influence is obvious, but The Zoas tones down Night Vale's occasionally cloying political correctness. The show timed in at three hours, and it was well worth the investment of my time.

The bad is that this is a very complicated production --- particularly considering that Wednesday night's performance was supposed to be just a reading --- and the quality of the end product suffers for it. There were technical issues and rather obvious missed queues along the way. A lot of this is attributable to the intention to have a multi-media extravaganza for an end product. IMO if they re-wrote it as a radio show rather than a television show, they could remove a lot of the complexity without hurting the premise or the quality of the remaining writing. The H. P. Lovecraft Historical Society and Welcome to Night Vale both know how to pull that off.

The ugly The Zoas promises the next episode will come in May. That's a very ambitious timeline to carry out a very ambitious project, and I'm concerned that we'll see the same issues in the next episode as in the last. If I were them, I'd give it six months, not four.

There's also the more fundamental matter that this story line shows every indication of falling into the same trap as most weird tales these days, most of all Welcome To Night Vale, which the master of the weird tale, H. P. Lovecraft, described thusly:

We have millions who lack the intellectual independence, courage, and flexibility to get an artistic thrill out of a bizarre situation, and who enter sympathetically into a story only when it ignores the colour and vividness of actual human emotions and conventionally presents a simple plot based on artificial, ethically sugar-coated values and leading to a flat denouement which shall vindicate every current platitude and leave no mystery unexplained by the shallow comprehension of the most mediocre reader. (Source)

I congratulate the entire cast on putting on a hell of a good show despite the difficulty, and I wish them the best of luck next time.


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