The Antarctic Chronicles
nytheatre.com review by Sarah Congress
August 17, 2009
The Antarctic Chronicles, written and performed by Jessica Manuel, is a charming, firsthand account of Jessica's year spent in the "Ice," or Antarctica. For one hour, the audience is transported to the chilly continent to witness the breathtaking views, backbreaking labor, and self-realization Jessica experienced during her one frosty year.
As an attempt to curb her craving for adventure and learn to stand out as an individual, Jessica signs up to be a part of a manual labor team for a community of scientists living in Antarctica. She kisses her boyfriend and family goodbye, and flies across the globe, with boundless excitement. But her high spirits are dampened when she learns that she is at the bottom of the social totem pole, being a "FNGY"(F***ing New Guy). Her job in the Antarctic consists of fueling the buildings, turning valves, shoveling snow, and other strenuous physical activities. In an effort to stay entertained, Jessica makes slasher horror movies with her friends and starts an open mike night in her room. Through comedy and touching storytelling, the audience watches the social outcast adjust to the odd little community, battle work's monotony, and cope with the endless snowy space.
Jessica reenacts her adventures with humorous physicality and amazing facial expressions. She acts out the other characters in her story with great comedic flair, although the different voices end up sounding a bit muddled and similar. The actress successfully captivates her audience with her boundless energy and goofy charm.
Director Paul Linke does a good job of mixing storytelling with media. The story is aided by several short films and pictures, a few of which are actually real souvenirs from Jessica's journey. The simple set and sound help to personify the bareness and isolation of the landscape. The small space is well used by both director and actor to tell the adventurous tale.
The Antarctic Chronicles is a fun-filled hour of exploration, hilarity, and good old fashioned storytelling. Even though it was more than 90 degrees outside, the audience could feel the chill of the Antarctic.