Class act

Dallas Theater Center snags four Leon Rabin Awards in inaugural contest

You'll recall that Klaatu, an earnest and enterprising space guy from worlds beyond, parks his galactic go-cart on the Mall in D.C. and offers the people of earth a choice: shape up or burn up. After delivering this message of peace, Klaatu's killed by the imperial troops but is resurrected and promises that a Second Coming is in the works.

Hip Pocket Theatre in Fort Worth brings the movie to its small, outdoor, partially tree-shaded space via James Maynard's stage adaptation. Virtually all of the elements of the flick are there, from Gort, the imposing robot who provides the Old Testament muscle behind Klaatu's soft, New Testament message, to the space ship, to the kitschy Fifties costumes and furniture.

A lot of creativity and fondness for the film is reflected in this production. It also benefits from some solid performances, including Bryan Matthews as a handsome, sweet, and rather Forrest Gumpish alien, and Kristi Price-Jenkins as a convincing Fifties mom. In addition, J.R. Peacock does a slick turn as a hard-boiled member of a secret cadre of crazies who would just as soon not surrender their free will to a 10-foot tall lug dressed in Reynolds Wrap.

Despite the imaginative staging, this is a straightforward and rather serious morality play, relatively low on action and high on philosophizing. As a result, it's not quite the fun, fling-popcorn-at-the-villain campfest you might expect.

The Hip Pocket is a nice discovery, however, as it includes a funky jazz club, a dive restaurant, and a small exhibit space for experimental art. If you're looking for an antidote to the many slick and soulless entertainment emporiums the Metroplex has to offer, put the Hip Pocket on your list.

The Day the Earth Stood Still runs through November 12 at the Hip Pocket Theatre. Call (817) 927-2833.

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