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Rocket to the Moon

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Presented by Loading Zone in association with Amanda Harding at the Walkerspace, 46 Walker St., NYC, Feb. 22-March 9.

Sometimes, when plays are forgotten, there is an excellent reason why. Take Clifford Odets' rarely produced "Rocket to the Moon." Not only does nothing much happen, but when the play is over, there has been no change in the characters. The grim mood of the Depression is captured, but since the characters do nothing but suffer, it becomes depressing for the audience.

Dr. Ben Stark, D.D.S., is a strange character to make the hero of a play. He hates his job and his wife, suffers in silence, and does nothing to change his situation. This production's biggest problem was the casting of the heroine, Cleo Singer, a secretary with a delusional inner life. Naïve, seductive, and beautiful, she turns the head of every man who passes through the doctor's waiting room, from the doctor to his father-in-law. This is a tall order for any actress and, unfortunately, Alicia Harding did not convince us as to what these men see in Cleo.

Although the actors had been cast to type, director Frank Licato allowed them to behave as though they were all in separate plays. Matt Servitto, as Dr. Stark, was extremely realistic in his passivity. When he attempted to strangle a rival in the final scene, it seemed completely out of character. As his shrewish wife, Belle, Gia Carides behaved like a Greek tragedienne. We did not like her, nor did we want her husband to end up with her.

Tony Hoty's Dr. Cooper, who shares Stark's office, played a drunken Wallace Beery. As dance director Willy Wax, Steve Cell was a character out of a '30s Warner Brothers musical. Joel Rooks, as the sleazy father-in-law, was the clichéd dirty old man. Kevin Del Aguila's foot doctor behaved like a raisonneur in French drama; unfortunately, nothing his character says is particularly memorable.

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