Space Is the Place

Winter is when the Denver Center Theatre company delivers the meat of its season’s repertoire: an annual selection of DCTC-commissioned world premieres offered in conjunction with the company’s yearly Colorado New Play Summit. The plays are sometimes experimental and often deeply moving works that always give off a sense of engagement — one of wheels turning behind the scenes — by the cast, crew and the entire organization.

Rogelio Martinez’s When Tang Met Laika, which juxtaposes the eras of early space travel and the Cold War thaw of the ’90s, shows promise of being just that sort of play. The story — on the surface a love story between a Russian cosmonaut and an American astronaut who meet on the International Space Station — was inspired by Martinez’s own childhood fascination with the space program and incorporates a set of disparate symbols of the Space Age: Late cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin, the powdered breakfast drink Tang, and Laika, the dog whom the Soviets sent into space on a doomed mission, all make appearances. But it morphs into an exploration of tragedy in zero gravity and its effects both up in space and back on Earth.

If you go, expect unusually creative pyrotechnics from the stage crew, a broad historical backdrop and a doggie actor named Paul: When Tang Met Laika opens tonight at 7:30 p.m. and continues daily through February 27 in the Space Theatre, Denver Performing Arts Complex; for tickets, $18 to $53, go to www.denvercenter.org or call 303-893-4100.
Fridays, 7:30 p.m.; Saturdays, 1:30 & 7:30 p.m.; Sundays, 1:30 p.m.; Mondays-Thursdays, 6:30 p.m. Starts: Jan. 22. Continues through Feb. 27, 2010

 
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