Tuesday, Aug. 23, 2011

A Post-Nuclear Submarine Drama

Off The Wall's ON THE BEACH

By Russ Bickerstaff
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Australian Nevil Shute’s 1957 novel On The Beach is a sharply romantic end-of-the-world premise. Set in a world after a 1963 nuclear apocalypse that never happened, the story concerns itself with the lives of survivors living on an earth where nuclear fallout has more or less wiped out all of the life in the northern hemisphere. Winds are blowing the radiation south, however, and the relatively untouched areas of South Africa, New Zealand and Australia are slowly succumbing to radiation poisoning. Not exactly the cheeriest background, but powerful drama can come out of the end of the world. (Some of my favorite stuff, actually. Australian filmmaker George Miller did some amazing work in the post-apocalyptic genre in the '80's.) 

 

Shute’s novel gets the dramatic treatment in a contemporary stage adaptation this month as Off The Wall Theatre brings the drama to its intimate studio space downtown. Written by Dale Gutzman, the stage adaptation stars Dale Gutzman as US Navy Commander Dwight Towers—a man in charge of the USS Scorpion. The last of the US nuclear submarines picks-up Morse code coming from Seattle, inspiring a long journey to discover possible survivors.

 

The close-quarters of the Off The Wall’s studio theatre could be used to a staggeringly effective use as a submarine interior if Gutzman chooses to go in that direction. In any case, the audience’s proximity to the actors in an Off The Wall production could be breathtaking in a production that includes some of the best actors to appear with Off The Wall in recent seasons.

 

Off The Wall Theatre’s production of On The Beach runs September 15th – 25th. For ticket reservations, call 414-327-3552. 

 

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