‘Some grapes, it seems, are more equal than others.’
Inspired by the classic 1968 sci-fi film starring Charlton Heston, Peter Michael Marino has created a lockdown-friendly adaptation that blends Victorian toy theatre with the modern Digital Theatre movement. The show sees three astronauts awaken from hibernation and crash-land on a mysterious planet inhabited by sentient grapes, who keep humans (or rather wine corks) as pets to experiment on.
As you might expect, everything is charmingly DIY and low-budget, from the tinfoil-clad cork crew in a sardine tin boat to the curtain rising on the pint-sized musical interval act, Moscat Van Grapehoven. It’s all filmed on a chopping board in Peter’s New York apartment, and manages to capture the tense atmosphere of the film in a unique, fun way. I particularly enjoyed the chase scene with some innovative use of motorised props.
Even the fights are exciting, complete with big comic book ‘Pow!’s, and scene transitions somehow manage to be cinematic enough that you forget about the visible hands and rods moving everything. If you enjoy a heavy dose of grape puns, you’re in for a treat too.
The film’s plot is followed faithfully, which as a big B-movie fan I appreciated. Many of its themes are still relevant to today’s world: humankind’s inflated self-importance, the tension between science and religion, and unethical treatment of animals. Overall, I had a ‘grape’ time with Planet of the Grapes and highly recommend spending an evening in the virtual company of this talented ‘bunch’.
(Zoo TV, 8-24 Aug 8pm)