BWW Review: PILGRIMS from Forward Flux Meanders with Little Payoff
Claire Kiechel, author of "Pilgrims" currently being offered from Forward Flux Productions at West of Lenin, lists in her bio that she is a writer on Netflix's "The OA". So, a Sci Fi play complete with mystery and secrets should be a surprise to no one. However, unlike "The OA", Kiechel's play meanders about space with many superfluous scenes that come out of left field ultimately leading, in a disturbing way, to an ending that amounts to little more than a "huh, so that happened".
In our voyage aboard the spaceship Destiny we meet the soldier (Chris Shea), the girl (Meghan Dolbey), and the robot Jasmine (Alaji Marie). This is the girl's first trip to the new planet as she's escaping the dying Earth in order to colonize this new world, but the soldier has made the trip many times before encountering the aliens that already live on the planet. The soldier now suffers from a form of PTSD from all his work there and is not happy that he's forced to share his small cabin with this perky girl but there's not much to be done as they are informed by Jasmine the robot that a virus has been detected in some of the passengers and so everyone is confined to quarters in a quarantine. But all parties in this small cabin aren't telling the whole truth and, in this isolation, it's bound to come out.
There's really not much going on in the story once it all comes out, but it certainly takes them a long time to get there with several scenes of disturbing flirting (considering the soldier is 27 and the girl is 16), playing make believe (for no reason that I could see), and a red herring that the robot has more to do with this than we really thought as she keeps skulking about but to no effect. And when it does all finally come to a boiling point we find the girl has been lying this whole time for no reason (which we're supposed to be fine with), followed by a climactic rape scene (which we're not supposed to think less of the soldier for and which the girl does not). So now we have two characters which we somewhat got to know but really didn't and now don't really like, oh and by the way, here's the unsatisfying resolution and the play is over.
The actors do what they can with the piece. Shea is broken and guilt ridden, the girl is perky and flirty, and the robot is ... well ... a robot. And they perform those roles fine, but the script gives them little else to work with other than these two-dimensional tropes.
It's certainly not one of the worst things I've seen but it did feel like a bad copy of an episode of "The Twilight Zone" with some improv games thrown in to fill time and ultimately nothing to say. And so, with my three-letter rating system, I give Forward Flux Production's "Pilgrims" an exhausted sigh of a MEH-. I certainly hope we have better things coming in Season 2 of "The OA" after seeing this.
"Pilgrims" from Forward Flux performs at West of Lenin through May 19th. For tickets or information visit them online at www.forwardflux.com.