Combining music, comedy and science, Action Science
Theatre have been producing regular podcasts since June 2012 (I reviewed one of their first podcasts of Jane
Grey, Action Mathematician). This episode (no. 14 in the series) focused on Commander Masterton
(Brian Macken), in charge of the ISS (International Space Station), who seems completely unqualified for the job. Addicted
to video games, YouTube and himself, he shows little or no capacity for the demands of piloting a space station. His
underlings Louise Patterson (Mary Horan) and the East European Vanya Fuzyk (Holly Bathie) mount a campaign to unseat him,
much to the delight of Mission Control (Hannah Rackauskas), who has experienced considerable difficulty in trying to get Masterton
to communicate properly, adding "Over" at the end of most statements.
The comic style of this episode can be best described as quasi-Carry On, an endless stream of excruciating
puns, allusions to space series of the past (addicts of Star Trek and Space 1999 might
find the podcast especially nostalgic), with the odd fart joke thrown in for good measure. The effect resembles a scatter-gun:
bombard listeners with endless jokes and some of them are bound to register. The cast work hard to sustain comic intensity,
and largely succeed in their efforts.
At the same time, Space Stationary does have
some more serious points to make about the nature of leadership; sometimes the best people don't always get the posts they
deserve. There are also some subtle criticisms of gender stereotyping, which often prevents rather than encourages communication
between individuals, especially when men address women. But perhaps this is inevitable in a context where Commander
Masterton wants to live up to his name and assert his authority, although manifestly unqualified to do so.