This original work sets out to present the history of the US state of Nevada, contending that there’s more to it than Vegas.
There are some musical numbers and a joke that earned a lot of laughter from the audience - but also some puns that were met with groans.
The narrative is framed within an FBI investigation following the mysterious disappearance of a television presenter. The FBI agents are Scolder and Mully (played by Marin Monteith and Matt Grimm), a parody of The X-Files (even though that show probably finished when our performers were toddlers).
To uncover the TV presenter’s disappearance, Scolder and Mully first question a woman who works impersonating Mary Ann (Audrey Thompson, who gives and energetic and endearing performance) from Gilligan’s Island. We learn that Dawn Wells, who played the iconic role, is from Reno, Nevada. Next, Scolder and Mary Ann watch back the tape of the presenter’s show to see what happens. The host of History in your Face (Oliver Page) and his audience participant Small Child (Matthew Hutchison) go on a low-budget time-travelling adventure to uncover the story of the state.
This is where things get weird – not X-files weird, but logic weird. Remember that the actors are performing a play within a play here that exists on tape – and yet, on several occasions we see backstage scenes or breaks from taping. It’s also unclear in a scene with Abe Lincoln and Ulysses S. Grant whether the time travel is simply part of the TV show, or is in fact actually happening. There are some other issues with the logic of the plot, notably the continuation of the show after Scolder and Mully have completed their investigation.
The Nevadan constitution, Area 51, aliens and Elvis also appear in the story. It’s absurd in places, although drags in others. There’s nothing new about the story and some of the significant ‘Nevadans’ are odd choices – Elvis, who grew up in Memphis, Tennessee, Mark Twain who was famously from Mississippi. Unfortunately, the show didn’t convince me that there was more to Nevada than the stereotypes we know – although I did learn the correct way of pronouncing it.
The performers are clearly having fun and all do a good job. In the lead role of the Host, Oliver Page does a fantastic job, and his selfie-obsessed sidekick Matthew Hutchison provides a great foil. There are some musical numbers and a joke that earned a lot of laughter from the audience - but also some puns that were met with groans.
Nevada is entertaining but unremarkable, and will be appreciated by its target audience of family, peers and other participants in the American High School Theatre Festival.