They obviously don't have a George Lucas–type budget, but the creative team and cast of Fight Girl Battle World, a frenetic takeoff on Star Wars and other epics of that ilk, make up for the lack with gleeful enthusiasm, fertile imaginations, and boundless energy. Even more appealing is their affection for the genre they're sending up. There's plenty of sass, to be sure, but little or no hint of corrosive camp, and this affection was infectiously reflected by the responsive packed audience on hand at the performance reviewed.
Qui Nguyen's script is dotted with spiky humor and some politically tinged jokes as it tells of the "fight girl" named E-V. The galaxy's last human female, she's surviving by fighting space monsters in exhibition bouts on the alien planet of Battle World. But her real battle begins when she's pulled into a motley group of insurgents attempting to overthrow the evil forces ruling the universe. Under Robert Ross Parker's direction, the small playing area almost seems to expand to accommodate the ingeniously choreographed action sequences and the plentiful stage combat. Nguyen is credited with fight direction.
The nine-person cast takes to the stage with spirit worthy of the Olympics. Leading the pack are Melissa Paladino as feisty E-V; Temar Underwood as the James Earl Jones–like General Dan'h, leader of the rebels; and Maureen Sebastian as the sexy pilot of Dan'h's warship. Among other noteworthy turns are Paco Tolson's LC-4, an empathetic but sarcastic robot, and Noshir Dalal's Adon-Ra, the combative last human male. There are also some tiny scene-stealing puppets. Other key assets are Jessica Wegener's funny and multitudinous costumes, Nick Francone's scenic and lighting design, and Patrick Shearer's sound.
In a program note, Nguyen and Parker say they aim to create theatre for anyone who has ever "got lost reading a comic book or video game when they should have been doing their homework." Mission accomplished, gentlemen.
Presented by Vampire Cowboys Theatre Company
at Here Arts Center, 145 Sixth Ave., NYC.
July 14–18. Tue.–Sat., 8:30 p.m. (Additional performance Fri., July 17, 11 p.m.)
(212) 352-3101, (866) 811-4111, www.theatermania.com, or www.here.org.