by Ed Malin · June 12, 2015
The Nanoman is a new science and bit-pop musical by Krista Knight, with music composed by Barry Brinegar, in collaboration with nanobiologist Dr. Nicole F. Steinmetz. Kristin Skye Hoffman directs several worlds of varying complexity.
If you love science, if you remember the Nintendo Entertainment System and associated chic, or if you have a tragic sense of life, you should come to the small barroom stage of the Parkside Lounge to see a small character fight for a great big cause. This show is funded by a Nord Grant from Case Western Reserve University.
There is great ferment after NYU’s biology conference. The classy medical staff (Danielle Gray and William Oliver Watkins) can carry a test tube and carry a tune. Indeed, after interviewing the audience during the pre-show, they set the scene for a special presentation by Dr. X (Krista Knight). Dr. X is a German Scientist. What that means is open to interpretation, results to be confirmed later. Dr. X may look odd or angsty, may have that hairstyle that’s about to come back, and may even be shunned by the medical establishment. A lot of enjoyable fact-finding is summarized in flashbacks. What Dr. X has done, let’s say for the good, is a revolutionary processing of the tobacco mosaic virus into something that can fight back. She and her assistants sing about the four-step process (Propagation, Purification, Bioconjugation, Characterization; “P.P.B.C.”) in a song that sounds pleasantly like “The Loco-motion”. The happiness of this number, coupled with 8-bit video game music rhythm tracks, is a kind of popular science you might not expect to see when the stakes are so high.
For, while the newly created hero, Nanoman (Barry Brinegar) is running through the maze of Dr. X’s body, he is indeed battling the sickness unto death. What is good and what is bad? Is a virus that is sent into an organism to fight tumors somewhat good? Even if that virus is made from specimens of a disease which killed plants in the lab?
Nanoman has the snazzy outfit and the peptide spear you don’t always get in this kind of “biopic”. Nanoman sometimes breaks the fourth wall, or membrane. Part Megaman, part Wolverine, part small town hero, Nanoman has a purple haze in his brain from which no one is immune. But he may make a big difference, while showing us how frail we all are in the end.
Congratulations to the makers of The Nanoman for making geeky knowledge very entertaining. The acting is joyous. Not as awkward as Little Shop of Horrors and with an ego smaller than Hedwig and the Angry Inch, the very tiny nano-hero breaks new ground. You can sample Nanoman video game magic on YouTube.