In spite of negative reviews, the Mark Taper Forum's subscription audiences have been coming to see Tina Landau's Space and the director is in New York City now, rehearsing the play for a Nov. 16 opening at the Public Theatre.
Landau's philosophically and technically ambitious play about alien abduction, UFOs and the Human Condition, was launched recently at the Mark Taper and is booked through Nov. 14. On Oct. 23 a special event took place surrounding the Saturday matinee -- a panel of experts with opposing views spoke on the subjects of extraterrestrial life, alien abduction, religion and more. A Taper spokesperson told Playbill On-Line that the matinees panel was pre-scheduled and was not a strategy to boost interest for the show in light of reviews.
"It's hard to say if the panel had any effect on attendance," the spokesperson said. "We're doing okay. Space is scheduled to close Nov. 14, and as a subscription house we have no choice but to close then."
Two days after Spacecloses at the Mark Taper, it is scheduled to open at the Public Theatre in New York.
Landau -- whose previous credits include Floyd Collins (book & lyrics) and The Trojan Women: A Love Story (director) -- both wrote and directed Space and oversaw previous productions in Boston and Chicago. At the Taper she was given a huge production budget to work with, with enough special effects, back-screen projection, sound and lighting tricks, and musical bridges to satisfy a video-games junkie. She also had a top-notch cast at her disposal, headed by Francis Guinan playing an uptight neurologist and Shannon Cochrane as an astronomer who scans the skies for alien radio signals, with Alan Oppenheimer, Karen Fineman (as The Singer), Michael Reisz, Mary Pat Gleason, J. August Richards and Eric D. Steinberg backing them up. The actors and the creative team were praised by most critics and Landau's direction won kudos as well, but the play itself was badly reviewed on all sides.
Space continues at the Mark Taper Forum, 135 N. Grand Ave. For tickets and information call (213) 628-2772, Pay What You Can tickets area available for the Oct. 19 performance -- limit of two per person. Public rush $12 tickets can be purchased two hours prior to curtain; certain restrictions apply.
-- By Murdoch McBride