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Hollywood Fringe 2024: Blacks in Space – The Fantastic Voyage

A combination of science fiction adventure and domestic dramedy, Blacks in Space: The Fantastic Voyage is loaded with references to famous franchises (Star Trek, Lost in Space), but it is not a spoof. Instead, it is an exploration of familiar tropes as seen through the lens of a black family. As its title suggests, this is a play with a message; fortunately, that message is delivered through an engaging story – alternately funny and disturbing – which feels like the first chapter in an ongoing series.

In 2046, the Floyd family embarks on a journey to a distant planet, leaving behind Earth after father August, a famous astronaut, is nearly killed by police in front of his son while getting a hamburger at McDonalds. Outwardly, the Floyds are excited about the opportunity for a hopefully safer existence on a new world; inwardly, however, they have doubts about their chances for success. Will their new home be an improvement? Even if they are unsure of success, could they afford not to take the change?

In a way, Blacks in Space: The Fantastic Voyage is an exploration less of outer space than of a dilemma wrongfully forced upon a family. Throughout the play, the story pauses for each adult character to deliver a soliloquy explaining his or her personal reason for embarking on the journey with no real guarantee of success. They are literally risking their lives, but remaining on Earth – with its racial violence, civil unrest, and climate crisis – would have been perhaps a bigger risk. What else could they do?

Blacks in Space: The Fantastic Voyage
The Floyd family aboard the NS4-SRK 4000 space shuttle

The monologues allow the play to expound on its themes in a way that feels natural, revealing to the audience what the characters dare not speak out loud; however, Blacks in Space is more than merely expository, never losing sight of the danger of the situation. That risk becomes manifest when a ship malfunction forces August Floyd to perform a little Extra Vehicular Activity in order to effect repairs, with devastating consequences. The suspense and the aftermath are rendered with amazing impact for show staged so simply (mostly actors sitting in chairs on blank stage), proving how well the dialogue and performances have pulled the audience into the story.

Perhaps the feeling of authenticity stems from the fact that Blacks in Space is a true family affair (the actors are indeed related). Whatever magic in a bottle the show captures, it ends on a hopeful note, celebrating perseverance in the face of adversity and the importance of familial bonds in a world gone mad. Here’s hoping for Blacks in Space Part 2 at next year’s Hollywood Fringe Festival.

Blacks in Space: The Fantastic Voyage

Rating Scale

1 – Poor
2 – Mediocre
3 – Good
4 – Great
5 – Excellent

As you can guess from the title, Blacks in Space has something to say about racism, which it does in the context of a compelling story that will leave you wanting more.

Blacks in Space was part of the 2024 Hollywood Fringe Festival. Learn more about it here.

Credits: Aaron Burleson – writer, director, executive producer. Elizabeth Franco – executive producer. Gary Burleson – executive producer.

Steve Biodrowski, Administrator

A graduate of USC film school, Steve Biodrowski has worked as a film critic, journalist, and editor at Movieline, Premiere, Le Cinephage, The Dark Side., Cinefantastique magazine, Fandom.com, and Cinescape Online. He is currently Managing Editor of Cinefantastique Online and owner-operator of Hollywood Gothique.