Vladimir’s Pocket Productions
By MAUREEN FITZGERALD
At The 2004 New York International Fringe Festival
The Access Theater, 380 Broadway
Directed by ALEX LIPPARD
Sets MAIRIM DALLARYAN
Lighting MICHAEL C. JACKSON
Costumes MARTIN LOPEZ
Stage Manager MANDY SHUKER
Publicity KAREN GRECO
Barbara Northrup/Marjorie Cameron – Heather Tom
Jack Parsons – Eric Altheide
L. Ron Hubbard – Jonathan Cantor
Betty Northrup – Abby Wathen
William (Billy) Crewson – Andrew Shulman
Helen Flemming – Mardie Millet
Aleister Crowley – David Jones
Once upon a time, in real life, L. Ron Hubbard, the founder of Scientology, was a guest of rocket scientist/Satanist Jack Parsons, and made the acquaintance of Aleister Crowley, occultist and leader of the Ordo Templi Orientis. What became of this meeting? Who knows for sure, but in the finest spirit of dramatic license, playwright Maureen Fitzgerald has woven the cloudy details into the comic MOONCHILD.
In a production that fits the niche that has become the New York International Fringe Festival, Vladimir’s Pocket presents promise with MOONCHILD. Not a perfect play, but certainly one that raises eyebrows and encourages questions, it made me curious. Unfortunately, the play ends where it should begin, just after Hubbard (Jonathan Cantor) and Crowley (David Jones) meet. This encounter sent me scrambling for more information, as these men were and are prominent historical figures.
Were MOONCHILD pure fiction, it might be less disappointing, and even entirely enjoyable as a sort of pulp entertainment experience where no one in the audience expects or wants the characters to be anything more than one-dimensional. When dealing with quasi-reality, however, a whole different set of criteria enter into play. So, sure, watching Jack Parsons (Eric Altheide) succumb to stereotype and scam at the hands of Hubbard and Ms. Marjorie Cameron (Heather Tom), who are aided by the relatively unwitting accomplice/jailbait lover Betty Northrup (Abby Wathen) much to the chagrin of protector Crewson (Andrew Schulman) makes for some escapist entertainment, we feel slighted at the denouement, where intrigue lends a fleeting hand.
Not an unpleasant production at all, but merely a subject at hand that made me yearn for more, MOONCHILD did, overall, feel Fringy enough to be a selection for the festival. Based on the merits of the play, it is clear that playwright Maureen Fitzgerald has a sense of the real-yet-ridiculous, and has a great deal of fun exploiting such situations. I look for more from her in the future.
- Kessa De Santis -