Going back to the future with some Duran Duran playing in the background, pre-engineering major Ruby (Molly Corkins) has entered her mind palace. Once there, her imagination reanimates some of science’s greatest minds to group problem-solve her core values and her life purpose. She searches for her true inner-being in a world of shallow platitudes, self-interest, irresponsible power mongering, global doom and blatant disregard for facts.
My Posse Loves Science
Taking on novel personalities, Fruition of a Delusion protagonists Marie Curie, J. Robert Oppenheimer, Robert Montgomery, Nikola Tesla, and Albert Einstein take turns between comedic bits and purposefully corny dance routines to recount their bouts with genius. Their stories unravel as parables to guide Ruby’s blossoming mind.
Marie Curie (Anna Lee Murray), a pioneering chemist and vociferous believer in scientific discovery, portrayed as flighty and slightly naive, freely experiments in a time when as woman thinking beyond child bearing and housework would have been taboo. She ultimately puts her own safety secondary to her curiosity. To her own detriment, her contributions to science duly receive history’s praise.
We find out gifted intelligence can be destructive. Writers Kelly Coffey and Don Russell recast Oppenheimer (Selena Milewski) in a stormy, death metal and occultish caricature. Milewski deftly summons a cold inaccessible presence that could conceive a technology able to kill 100,000 people in the blink of eye, yet possessing mysterious charm.
With a pipet of irony, Montgomery (Eric Scherrer) reveals that accidental brilliance can save humanity from something more dangerous than atomic weapons. Do IQ and social adjustment correlate? Coffey challenges the audience here, with Scherrer adding multiple doses of off-color humor. An epic breech of the forth wall brings Montgomery’s addition to the annals invention to bear, assisted by a low-tech Rube Goldberg machine.
Oft-noted local performance artists Sarah Ann Mellstrom and Ben Yela have serially trounced happily in the indie theatre scene and continue their proficiency here by grounding this play with well-rounded and interesting mannerism and movement. Yela, touting the exploits of Nikola Tesla’s seminal inventions that transformed the possibilities of transporting electricity without insulated wires, takes his character toward comedic lunacy. We learn even the best ideas can threaten powerful interests and be suppressed at the expense of humanity.
Introducing synchronicity, Einstein (Mellstrom) opens our thoughts to the possibility of natural harmony, even among objects of obvious discord. In the process, Einstein settles the debate of the solubility of geekiness and cool.
Fruition of a Delusion brings Cooperative Performance Milwaukee together with students of Marquette U’s school of engineering. With that arrangement come some fancy toys to digitally assist the production. The school’s visualization lab gives the production a virtual set, a 3D projected environment (Chris Larkee) that turns a 4 x 15 alcove into a 1,550 square foot foyer. Imagine a video game transplanted out of a television set.
A live music ensemble provides the soundtrack for most of the musical numbers and scene interludes. Julianne Frey gives direction for Elizabeth Smith, Scherrer, Lizzy Biermann (Arrangement), Matthew Mueller to play the tunes live.
Rattle and Roam
Fruition of a Delusion tumbles through a rambling and prolix script relying heavily of the random access memory of Corkins, and the rest of the ensemble, to sharply deliver a succession of quip and obscure references to pop culture, philosophy, science factoids and terminology. In this task the ensemble passes the test, switching between the script and movement choreography (Daniel Burkeholder) with ease.
The costume design (Colby Breyfogle) follows the nontraditional casting, offering non-sequitur interpretations of style sense exuded by the scientists’ portrayed. Sydonia Lucchesi saw to the stage management.
Fruition of a Delusion is performed in the 3D Visualization lab of the Marquette University Opus School of Engineering, on the corner 16th and Wisconsin Ave. with remaining performances Friday February 17th and Saturday the 18th at 8p, and Friday February 24th at 8p, and closing the 25th with performances at 3p and 8p.