◌ Trek in the Park
26 July 2010
I’ve never been a big Trek fan. It’s well-studied history: every response you could have to it is already a 40-year-old school of fandom with its own forum. It’s like being a fan of the Mona Lisa. There are other things that need the attention more.
But yesterday I went to Trek in the Park, because why not, and it was great. There must have been many temptations – to make it too silly, to make it too serious, to make it a spectacle, to re-write it – but they were strong. I have no special eye for this, but it’s easy to see that the director-producer team, Adam and Amy Rosko, are extremely good. Everything works, and works together. The only problem was that Woodlawn Park’s amphitheater overflowed, so the actors were more or less in the round, and had to yell a bit to be heard. (Washington Park has a bigger one, which would be shadier on summer afternoons, but it’s way over there.)
The episode was Space Seed, when the Enterprise meets Khan, an evil genius from Earth’s late–twentieth-century dabbling in eugenics. The sexism starts early, and the audience’s nervously knowing laughs were a bit unnerving – come on, people, it’s from the 60s; let’s skip the communal disapproval of obviously horrible things. Same for the giggling about the TOS universe’s history of the 90s, but whatever. I guess everyone has to think about how to deal with the past’s future for the first time, and an audience that isn’t all used to watching science fiction is one of the things that makes Trek in the Park such a great idea. And it was a good old-fashioned Portland audience; it skewed white and young, but not excruciatingly, and random park-goers were drawn in.
Above, we see Khan seducing Lt McGivers, the ingénue historian. The audience was very appreciative of certain phrases which read as more sexually suggestive than they probably did in 1966. (And, later, of some incidents which have become prime ho yay.) In the background, half a live musician.
That’s some acting right there – look at their mouths. They’re in the background, but they look like a superhuman, Spock, Bones, and Scotty (and of course asphyxiating Kirk). I was particularly happy with Bones, acting-wise. It must be hard to play such a serious guy next to the more out-there characters.
Spock and Kirk overpower a superhuman. The fights were great. The redshirt was played by a charity auction winner, and even he managed to fling himself right across the amphitheater. Kirk landed a particularly impressive flying kick on Khan’s chest which I only got from a terrible angle; maybe I’ll try again next week. Actually, if I were smart, I’d get a new F→EOS adaptor and use the Nikkor for extra 60s look. Hmmm.
If you’ll overlook some extremely poor camera work, here’s their trailer for next year’s run, Mirror, Mirror:
I’m especially delighted by their trailer-style “cuts” being completely unmarked.
So. Trek in the Park lives up to its premise. It’s wonderful.