Written by Patrick Storck
Directed by Nicole Lee Aiossa & Justin Plowman
Presented by Dysfunctional Theatre Company
July 6—26, 2013
I think it may have been Baz Luhrmann who said that we are all boats against the tide of the past, but in the internet era it’s more like all time periods including the future are spaceships in a merry-go-round orbit — nothing stays gone and everything comes back around, and sometimes they collide.
This is the worldview of the tech-savvy aliens who recruit the title characters of Final Defenders, several generations of gamers from recedingly sophisticated eras — 2010s geek, 1980s arcade-rat, ’60s/’70s pinball stoner, ’50s slapfighter (?) and Victorian ball-on-string-and-cup boy. The Plan 9-esque alien couple have actually seeded the past within all these, um, pastimes, inventing and bestowing the games to breed competitors in a life-and-death contest of strategy with an evil space-empress.
The ear for each decade’s verbal clichés and limited worldviews is spot on, and the portrayals 200-percent committed to fluff (especially the kinetic presence of Mel Delancey as the irrationally exuberant ’80s mall-diva, the focused umbrage and furtive underachievement of Adam Files as the present-day tech-junkie, and the sophisticated shtick of Amy Overman as the Nora Charles-esque alien, her aristocratic twitches a ballet of elegant tics that makes her the demonic puppet-master of her own mannerisms).
Nicole Lee Aiossa & Justin Plowman’s dexterous, disciplined direction amplifies the farce while never pratfalling into frivolity, and the precise and rewarding coordination between performance and back-projection in the video design by Plowman and playwright Patrick Storck is the work of people who spent exactly enough time playing computergames.
The show’s clever script makes frequent fun of its own reliance on and recycling of its pop-culture and household-product sources. But Final Defenders wins by its wits.