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Time Traveling Warrior Babes 

SPAC provides the sci-fi battleground

Seeking to apply his fight choreography skills to a female combat drama, Tony Wright quickly discovered there were no existing scripts to suit his needs. So the actor/playwright, who directed last year's slumber party version of Midsummer Night's Dream, cooked up his own futuristic sci-fi potboiler, Alpha, now playing at the SouthEnd Performing Arts Center.The Actors Gym production wastes little time in exposing the reason why ventures of this sort are so rare. Portraying the warrior Devlin, treacherous defector to the evil Dark Zoners, Casey Gogolin doesn't run on her strong stallion legs like Lynda Carter or Marion Jones. This Amazon megalomaniac runs like a girl. Combatants in Alpha's frequent swordplay never thirst for each other's blood as they hack with their weapons. On the contrary, they're painfully careful not to hurt each other.

Creeping inhibition also defangs our starship's exotic voyage to the Land of the Sirens. That same telltale delicacy somewhat detracts from Wright's most inspired embellishment, the Dark Zoners' devilish S&M conjuration of the dark cosmic force. Armed with a black cat-o'-nine-tails, Amy Laughter's queen of the Dark Zoners doesn't flog her subjects with demonic gusto as they crawl around her. Instead, she sorta teases and caresses their butts.

But it's the thought that counts. And the butts.

We are taken to a post-apocalyptic world where men have been wiped out in a pandemic and the race of women survives on withdrawals from the global sperm bank. The world is divided into two camps, the Futurians who wear colored teddies, and the dominatrix horde of Dark Zoners. Crucial to the struggle for supremacy is possession of the Cosmic Cube, designed by the mystic Zelda to be activated over the centuries by the rays of successive solar eclipses.

Through the wizardry of time travel, those centuries can be collapsed into minutes. When the Dark Zoners seize the cube, Alpha and Omega embark on a mission to chase the villains down, recover the cube, and redeem the planet. At their disposal are two golden TLD's (these little disks), lesser powers than the Zoners' hijacked time machine.

Each time we land in a new era, there are new natives to confront -- plus new soundtracks, new choreography, and new decolletage. The universe is an endless runway, hiding endless Victoria's Secrets.

Laura Aguirre and Karen Surprise eventually got the hang of Alpha and Omega's stodgy camaraderie, but both could use remedial work at wrestling and gladiatorial schools. Their rivals, Courtney Wright and the yummy Gogolin, were more adept at the action game, but were occasionally loath to turn up the heat on their wantonness. Variety might have compensated for the amatory shortfall, but these S&M babes never changed their outfits, a criminal omission by Wright in his directing chores.

Wright the writer is more resourceful, plotting inventively, roaming engagingly between episodes of action and crass titillation, and depositing arch nuggets of comical dialogue along the way. The time Wright must have devoted to studying porn flicks as he wrote Alpha was well-spent. But I wish he'd paid more attention to the observations of female standup comedians -- or harvested better feedback from his cast. These heroic women don't seem to have evolved beyond feminine vanity, cattiness, and PMS. Inexcusable.

Laughter shows all the sneering meanness of Queen Zair when not required to prove it in action, and Adrienne Nixon, CL's 1999 Newcomer of the Year, ranges successfully beyond her Tarradiddle comfort zone in multiple imperious roles. A trio of supporting honeys rounds out the cast, sometimes better with their movement than with their cue pickup. The rapid-fire ricochet of Wright's dialogue bogged down a few times on opening night, a problem that should begin to evaporate during the second week.

Or not. To those heading for Alpha with an alcoholic beverage -- and a proclivity for testosterone fantasies -- going slow might not be such a bad thing.

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