You know the moon landing wasn’t real, right? It was all done on a Hollywood sound stage by actors. What you probably didn’t know, however, is that a comedian, an author and a secretary were locked in a bunker to write that timeless line: the one about the step and the leap. That’s the premise of Mickey Down and Konrad Kay’s play, which looks at the immortal power of a few well chosen words.
Lewis Schaffer plays comedian Mitch in best cod-Woody Allen style, shoulders raised in a permanent shrug and every line dripping with self-deprecation. Tom Stade is a drunken novelist convinced of his own undiscovered brilliance.
They’re both good, but in a bizarre turn Phil Nichol, playing Hollywood producer Jay Weinberg, looks and acts exactly like Robert Downey Jr. in Iron Man: the same goatee, the same arrogance, fast-paced delivery, straight face, ribald wit. In fact, the whole setup is Avengers-esque: a team of brilliant misfits on a top secret mission.
Kay and Brown’s writing is clever, though not often particularly funny, and scenes drag on too long. The characters are strong, even if a Jewish comedian, an alcoholic writer and a put-upbron female secretary aren’t anything we haven’t seen before.
Armstrong’s line is probably the only thing people know about the moon landing. More than the date, more than the science, certainly more than the name of the third guy. With quotes from the Bible, Gettysburg, Galileo and Tolstoy, the play shows that, in the right order and for the right purpose, words are enough to make dreams—like space exploration—a reality.