Darkside, Eclipse Theatre Company. The success of the film Apollo 13 may have inspired Eclipse Theatre to take a chance on Ken Jones's 1987 space saga, an 80-minute depiction of three astronauts embroiled in a space emergency even more dire.
Unfortunately, Jones's melodrama could never be confused with that taut and believable film: the crew of "Apollo 18" are at least as beleaguered as the 1970 astronauts and even more beset with standard-issue psychological breakdowns. The damaged lunar module, carrying two astronauts, has lost power and is stranded on the moon. Stuck in the orbiting capsule is astronaut Bill, circling helplessly, often out of radio contact as he ever so symbolically faces the moon's dark side: he endures guilty flashbacks to his adulterous affair with the wife of one of the stranded astronauts (revelations so boring they give "earthbound" a new meaning). Meanwhile the conveniently crazed crew member is convulsed by a panic attack that makes him want to open the hatch and wander the moon. The third guy--the one flier who seems competent--must wonder how he got stuck with these two wackos. So do we.
The hokey, consistently overwrought action soon becomes unintentionally self-parodying. Rick Mohler's staging, buttressed by video monitors depicting NASA footage and an interview with an obnoxious reporter, gives this outer-space soap opera what little reality it has. The on-target portrayals--an anguished James Krag as the sorrowful solo crewman, Christopher Holloway as the psycho, and Scott Benjaminson as the solidly reliable one--can't make this creaky, implausible script fly.