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 appreciated the fact that we have such a great theater scene, and regret that it took me until 2013 to finally make it to Minnesota’s Fringe Festival.
As I scanned the list of shows for this year, the one that quickly pulled at my Trekkie heart was The Theatre Cosmic’s production of a play called, Stuck in an Elevator with Patrick Stewart.
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.
I 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, I was in the dark in regards to every other aspect.
The synopsis didn’t give too much away, and going off the title alone, one could presume the production could be no more than a goofy situational comedy featuring a series of potentially clichéd geeky exchanges between Patrick Stewart and a stereotypical stock Trekkie.
Fortunately, however, that presumption could not be further from the truth. While there were many bits of comedy, there was also so much more than that. The show had drama, depth, and most importantly, heart.
It’s well known that Patrick Stewart wasn’t the biggest fan of being involved in Star Trek during the first season or two. He hated being referred to as an “unknown Shakespearian actor,” and felt that the show was beneath what he really hoped to accomplish as an actor. Stuck in an Elevator with Patrick Stewart depicts the actor at that point in his life, as he finds himself – as you could could guess – suck in an elevator with a Trekkie named Daniel. Daniel, like many of us, sees Star Trek as so much more than an escapist fantasy as Stewart himself once saw it. He finds hope and inspiration from the stories in Trek and sees the optimism as something powerful enough to pull us from the darker corners of his life.
The exchanges between the characters tackle issues ranging from mental isolationism, emotional abuse, and bullying to integrity of character, redemption, and Shakespeare.
What affected me the most was how this demonstrated that something seen as trivial or even childish by some, can mean so much to others. How matters of perspective can be different from person to person.
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 both reminds me much of my past with my father who recently passed away earlier this summer, and has shaped my future while becoming an important part of my relationship with my wife who also shares my passion for it.
Star Trek is not for everyone and I completely understand that, but you do not need to be a fan to appreciate these themes. It is so much more than a Trek story. The same sense of meaning and inspiration that Daniel drew from Star Trek could be taken from a book, an event, a piece of artwork, another franchise altogether, or simply an old trinket.
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!