I was fortunate enough to catch this production, luckily reading about it on a whim as I casually glanced through the acts featured at the 2013 Minnesota Fringe Festival.
The Twin Cities is second only to New York City in the amount of theater seats per capita, and is the third largest theater market in the United States after NYC and Chicago, so quite a few acts will unfortunately roll through town under my radar. I’ve always enjoyed Minnesota’s bolstering theater scene, and thus I was kicking myself as I perused the Fringe Fest catalogue realizing that it took me until 2013 to finally make it a show. As I scanned the list of shows for this year, I was quickly drawn to The Theatre Cosmic’s production, Stuck in an Elevator with Patrick Stewart, and I knew that I’d found the show for me.
To be completely honest, I really had no idea what to expect on the day when I walked into the Redeye Theater in downtown Minneapolis for the show. While I understood the basic premise (below), I was still unsure what type of tone the show would take.
A renowned actor, torn between the London stage and Hollywood, and the sharp but awkward teenager who idolizes him, challenge each other’s hopes and fears amidst the chaos of a sci-fi convention in 1988.
The synopsis doesn’t give too much away, and the title could have us believe that it could be no more than a goofy situational comedy and series of – potentially clichéd – nerdy/geeky exchanges between Patrick Stewart and a stereotypical stock Treekie. However, I quickly came to realize that notion could not be further from the truth. While there were many bits of comedy – very clever and funny bits, for that matter – there was so much more in the realm character drama, emotion, and depth throughout the production that really gave the whole thing a truly genuine sense of heart.
It’s well known that Patrick Stewart wasn’t a huge fan, to say the least, of being involved in Star Trek during the first season or two. He hated being referred “unknown Shakespearian actor,” and felt that the show was beneath what he really hoped to be doing on stage. Stuck in an Elevator with Patrick Stewart depicts him at that point in his life, addressing Daniel, a diehard fan of the show that Stewart sees as a simple escapist fantasy – all while, as the title implies, stuck in an elevator.
I absolutely loved the message that the escapism implied throughout the play is not only simple childish fantasy, but can provide hope and inspiration to those who may lack the opportunity for these in other forms. The exchanges between Patrick Stewart and the character of Daniel tackle issues ranging from mental isolationism, emotional abuse, and bullying to integrity of character, redemption, and Shakespeare.
What truly touched me , was how this production demonstrated that something seen as trivial or even childish by some, can truly mean so much to others. For the character of Daniel, Star Trek gave him the means to believe in himself, and to believe that good can really exist in the world. This idea can translate to almost anything and apply to nearly anyone. To me, personally, Star Trek represents much of my childhood with my Father who recently passed away earlier this summer, it has translated to my relationship with my wife who shares my passion for all things nerdy, and it continues as a source of hope and optimism for a better world. Star Trek is not for everyone and I completely understand that – however you do not need to be a Trekkie or Trekker, to appreciate the themes and the ideas conveyed in throughout this show. It is so much more than a simple Star Trek story – it is a human story. The same since of meaning and inspiration that Daniel, and that I, myself for that matter, draw Star Trek could apply to a book, an event, a piece of artwork, or an old trinket to someone else.
I believe that the play sold out all of its showings at the Redeye Theater, and I know it has received stellar feedback across the board. The cast was excellent, the production was outstanding, and I would highly recommend it. Check out The Theatre Cosmic’s website and their facebook page for more info on this show and their other productions as well – and let’s hope that this cast and crew get another chance to perform in the near future.