Caught in his orbit

Stuart Wilson's 'It's a Spaceship Now'
By BILL RODRIGUEZ  |  June 25, 2013

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WELCOME TO MY WORLD Chillin' with Wilson. [Photo by Brian Gagnon]

 

You know how some people have such colorful lives and vivid imaginations that you think that with a little organization and dramaturgy they could turn that into a theater piece? Well, Stuart Wilson’s workaday life, as described in It’s a Spaceship Now, is prosaic and work-free, but he has the eager imagination of a little boy, so when he goes skipping off describing his adventures, only the terminally sedentary will not be tempted to follow.

Presented by the Wilbury Theatre Group (through June 29), directed by Susie Schutt, his one-man show is an hour of whimsy and DIY laid-back lifestyle instruction, written and performed by Wilson. Empathy transfusions are the lifeblood of this performance. We join in the chorus about how he feels classy in his khakis, while he strums a ukulele; in shades and a sparkly jacket, he does a hip-hop rendition of “Space Is Scary” (written by his brother Trevor) while we beam like doting parents.

We are addressed as though we are sitting across from him at his kitchen table as he directs an animated one-sided conversation at us. It starts out casually, digressing here and there, and eventually focuses on a humorous but metaphorically apt dream he has had since he was a boy — to travel into space. Not to Mars or anything greedy, just a modest little arc up out of the atmosphere to float around for a while and return.

Wilson sure does want us to like him. Right off he distributes 17 written-down scene titles, with no particular purpose other than getting the audience involved. Later on, he asks how many people want coffee. Nine? Okay. Decaf? Nobody. Okay. He prepares a couple of batches in two large French presses, going on with his banter.

The set apparently is a reconstruction from his apartment, furnished mostly with things he has found and has been given. Dumpster diving, he tells us, is his main method for getting what he needs. “I don’t even have to think about what to buy,” he tells us. “I just wait, and stuff comes to me” (that stops short of socks and underwear, he makes sure to tell us, which his mother gets for him). Without pathos he informs us that the stuff sometimes includes heaps of abandoned french fries at Trinity Brewhouse. He’s so relaxed. He asks: “Do you really have to know what day it is?”

It doesn’t really matter whether or not his friend Bob somehow got assigned by MIT to decommission a surplus Soviet SS-18 “Satan” ICBM in his Chepachet back yard. It doesn’t matter whether Wilson actually constructed a 62-foot rocket with Plexiglas windows and levers that didn’t connect to anything. Their wanting to is enough for us.

When he was nine, his parents split up and he became obsessed with the idea of getting into space. He also grew fascinated with Star Trek: The Next Generation, especially with Data and his yearning to become human.

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