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The Science Museum's theater company plays with ideas in a series of one-acts.

Mystery Science Theater


Just when you've finally mastered Esperanto, the international language of the world, some wise guy named David Ives (a playwright) comes up with a new language: Unamunda.

Learn this universal language and you can not only impress jet-setters all around the world, you can impress flying saucer-setters of the whole looniverse! If you overdo it, though, you might hear some extraterrestrial say, "Squeegie," (excuse me), "police shut du hoover" (please shut your mouth).

Where does one learn this looniversal language? At the Science Museum of Virginia's Eureka! Theatre. "The Whole Shebang and Other One-Act Plays," a main stage production of the museum's Carpenter Science Theatre Company, runs through Nov. 18.

Artistic director Larry Gard selected four short plays that express the impact of some form of science on our lives. The entire quartet, however, is not so lighthearted as the anchor play on universal language.

"The Confession of Many Strangers" is a sober look at Aug. 6, 1945, the day the Enola Gay dropped the first atomic bomb on Hiroshima. Gard did an admirable job playing the pilot, filling in for under-the-weather actor Woody Eney. The script, however, falls short of delivering any emotional lines from the pilot, whose mission resulted in the most massive destruction of humanity in history. There is almost no mention of the lost lives.

The second play, "The Whole Shebang" is a clever take on the creation of Earth. It posits that we humans are simply the creation of a graduate student's thesis somewhere out there in the cosmos. Don Kenefick, Barbara Fisher and Betzi Hekman do a bang-up job playing the quirky faculty. Adanma Onyedike, as the student, defends her thesis on the whole shebang, and after she admits "goofing off on the seventh day," we sense she may be someone far more important than a student.

The third play, "I'm With Ya, Duke," features an aging baseball fan facing heart surgery. The bedridden patient (Don Kenefick), verbally sparring with his physician (Barbara Fisher), draws us right into the hospital room where the issues of death and prolonged life hang in the air.

Artistic director Gard wisely saves the best for last: "The Universal Language." He stars in the production as Don, the wacky teacher of Unamunda, alongside of Marcia Quick, the aspiring student. This hilarious one-act leaves audience members quisling (questioning) the need for language and also, quisling the sanity of the playwright. On the other di anda (hand), it certainly reminds those who speak johncleese (English), that we always need to Nintendo (listen) to others. One more quisling: How in the munda did Gard and Quick memorize that blizzardo (bizarre) script? They were without quisling, bleeny con caviar (really great!)

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