‘Jesus Christ on roller-skates’ Gary (Adam Joselyn) sonically squeals in revelation. He plays a naïve criminal whose stolen space craft may indeed prove he is not as idiotic as his ‘friend’ Tyler (Cliff Chapman) and the audience are led to believe.
Sadly, it doesn’t.
Chapman’s dead-pan utterances instantly establish who has the true intelligence in this fraudulent pair. ‘Pilgrim Shadow’ is a play driven by the archetypal treasure quest. The pair conveniently ‘obtain’ his old space ship – The Pilgrim – which sends them on their way to find Tim Shadow’s legendary lost wonders. On this grail quest the duo must evade capture and dodge death, all without double-crossing one another. Director and playwright Steve Jordan explores these age-old hurdles with a fresh levity. Using the distant future to humorously commandeer clever quips of a current and contemporary calibre.
Set wholly in the singular dishevelled bridge/sun deck/engine room, the Pilgrim Space Craft is the ideal habitat to brood claustrophobia. This in turn only adds to the humour; Gary’s infantile and elevated tempo stands in mere centimetre proximity to Tyler’s calculated witticisms. This dynamic duo compare to infamous pairs such as Morecambe and Wise.
However, it is Joselyn’s juvenility – his fluttering fixations and fleeting attention span – which keeps the audience chuckling. Chapman also humorously interjects with his magnificently sonorous snide comments to further pinpoint Gary’s idiocy. The acting was to a high standard with a high degree of character development, most effectively shown in the juxtaposition of Gary and Tyler’s personas. With the exception to the delivery of certain lines as though regurgitating from memory and the occasional smirk and the acting remained focused.
Whilst the acting is commendable, the script often ventures into a predictable comedy; the heroically forlorn gaze, the furrowed brow, the dramatic stance. The audience is left uncertain whether this comedy is supposed to sustain a heightened playing level. This leads one to question whether there should be a directional decision to break the Fourth Wall in these moments. To not do so makes creating a coherent atmosphere difficult in this futuristic world. It is by no fault of the actors where this discordance occurs but, as the dialogue dampens to serious reminiscence, a lack of subtlety is notable.
Nevertheless, ‘Pilgrim Shadow’ is at its best when the natural dynamism between Joselyn and Chapman is evoked through clever repartee. It also showcases playwright Jordan’s pleasant ability to inject the classical adventure quest with humour. The child within you will enjoy this as much as the adult.