Laughter and a message on board the Mothership Three more performances this weekend

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photo captions:

1. Anna Rogers as Julia, a confused, fearful, angry young woman who gradually learns to draw on her inner strength and to make her sensitivity an asset, and Joe Hiney who plays Charlie, a macho, swaggering UPS driver.

2. From left to right are: Richard Barnick, who sympathetically portrays Ellis, the teacher, a frustrated and isolated man who takes comfort in his slippers; Marilyn Foote as Starburst, a multi-talented Humboldt County pot grower; Joe Hiney; Anna Rogers; Colleen Bingham as Vavalanis who manages to be both powerful and klutzy at the same time; and 15-year-old Ruby Elliot, who took on the wordless role of a silvery being nicknamed Roswell.

Virginia Graziani

Redwood Times

The unity of all galactic beings is the theme of The Mighty Mateel Players’ hilarious and thought-provoking new play, "Love Your Mothership," which opened last Friday at the Mateel Community Center and which continues its run this coming Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, Feb. 11-13.

The small but accomplished cast of humans and aliens, each one surpassingly weird in his/her/its own way, keep the laughs coming with fast-paced dialog, songs, and dance while gently reminding us how precious our Earth, not to mention the entire universe, is to all living beings.

The story begins when a mixed-up group of humans, including a lonely teacher, a ditzy real estate agent, a pugnacious UPS driver, and a spacey hippie, are mysteriously sucked up by a pulsating beam of light.

They regain consciousness to find themselves together inside a huge spacecraft, and immediately they begin quarreling. But as they struggle to understand what has happened to them and try to cope with their situation, a bond begins to form. Their belief that something ghastly has happened to the planet Earth brings them even closer, but without eliminating all the friction among such different personalities that makes their interaction so, well, human.

At this point the aliens make themselves known: first, a shadowy menacing monster, and then the tall, dazzling, strangely awkward Vavalanis, who seems sort of human, but not quite.

As the story continues, mind-blowing truths are unveiled, and each human’s life takes a strange new path.

Richard Barnick sympathetically portrays Ellis, the teacher, a frustrated and isolated man who takes comfort in his slippers, his crossword puzzles, and a common bodily function, but whose relative calm and knowledge help the group through difficult moments.

Anna Rogers convincingly conveys the character of Julia, a confused, fearful, angry young woman who gradually learns to draw on her inner strength and to make her sensitivity an asset.

Joe Hiney plays Charlie, a macho, swaggering UPS driver ready to take on the world — any world — in spite of his strange fetish. His toughness boosts the group through their bewilderment, and he learns his lesson about what’s ugly and what’s attractive in a surprising way.

Marilyn Foote is thoroughly into the character of Starburst, a multi-talented Humboldt County pot grower whose past experience with weirdness has prepared her better for a life among aliens than among humans.

As Vavalanis, Colleen Bingham manages to be both powerful and klutzy at the same time, stunning in both senses of the word. She/it can also belt out a tune, and its/her rendition of "Civilization" came close to bringing the house down.

Fifteen-year-old Ruby Elliott took the wordless role of a silvery being nicknamed Roswell, who communicates telepathically through dance, gracefully conveying the tragic story of aliens who crashed on Earth, yet expressing compassion for all life forms.

Michael Halton’s authoritative masculine voice conveyed Roswell’s telepathic thoughts, underlining the sense that gender is not as important as feeling to highly evolved beings. On the other hand, Roswell’s shared human DNA is revealed by its desire and passion for a fossil fuel-powered vehicle.

Making her acting debut as a 911 operator, Sue Moloney is almost inhumanly calm as she responds to calls from humans abducted by aliens, little knowing that she, too, is fated to encounter with other worlds.

Last but not least, Susan Maple as the voice of the Mothership brings notes of human emotion into the disembodied and presumably omniscient craft, making it a character in its own right — and sometimes a very funny one.

"Love Your Mothership" was written and directed by Al "Owl" Ceraulo, who also wrote the lyrics to the music composed by Andy Barnett, the music director for the play.

Other members of the production crew include Susan Alexander, stage manager; Joe Hiney, technical director; Michael Halton and Joani Rose, assistant directors; Sue Burdick and Jenny Edwards, choreography; set design, construction and painting by Joe Hiney, Stuart Moskowitz, Carl Hanson, and Michael Halton; costumes and props by Agnes Patak and Susan Maple; lighting by Joe Hiney and Eric Kay, sound by Jeanne York and Christy Watson; make-up and hair by Emelia Maple Madison and Hanna Atkinson; photography by Agnes Patak and video by Dan Glaser; and the poster and program by Anna Rogers.

Additionally, Kelly Larson, Jenny Edwards, Charlotte Silverstein, Joani Rose, Margaret Lewis, and Leah Radloff serve as house managers.

Desserts and coffee can be purchased with a donation at the show. Proceeds go to The Mighty Mateel Players, the Random People Monologue/Dialog Project, and the Whale Gulch School.

Doors open at 7:30 p.m., and the show starts at 8 p.m. on Friday and Saturday. On Sunday, the doors open at 1:30 for the matinee performance beginning at 2 p.m.

Tickets are on a sliding scale, $12-$20, at the door. For more information, call the Mateel Community Center at 923-3368.

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