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Ixion Theatre Ensemble is no stranger to science fiction. Its last two productions, “Chalk” and “Welcome to the White Room,” delved into heady, cerebral concepts à la the greatest episodes of “The Twilight Zone,” or the modern day “Black Mirror.” But its latest show “Fight Girl Battle World” promises to toss the philosophical ponderings aside for over-the-top combat action.
“Fight Girl Battle World” is a product of high-level schlock master Qui Nguyen’s imagination, who’s best known as the ringleader of New York’s Vampire Cowboy Theatre Co. The play is an aesthetic mishmash of “Star Wars,” “Star Trek” and “The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy” with the tongue-in-cheek production values of the terribly low budget — though genuinely endearing — “Plan 9 From Outer Space.”
“We do pretty heavy shows. They tend to be dramas; they tend to be very serious shows. But it’s fun to kick up our heels and have some goofiness for awhile,” creative director Jeff Croff said.
“Fight Girl Battle World,” which is set in the impossibly distant future on an imaginary planet, follows the story of the last non-mutated human woman in the galaxy, E-V. She’s a gladiator that spends the majority of her time fighting aliens but finds herself thrust into a typical, against all odds sci-fi adventure when the last human man, Adon-Ra, is discovered. The discovery leads to a quest to repopulate the human race.
This isn’t the first Vampire Cowboy Theater Co. show Ixion has tackled. “She Kills Monsters,” a similarly-toned play based on Dungeons & Dragons, was performed at the Robin Theatre in 2016. Croff, a self-described video game aficionado, has a particular fascination for Vampire Cowboy Theater Co. and its nerd-in-chief Qui Nguyen.
“Having grown up as a role-playing gamer from the ‘80s, ‘She Kills Monsters’ intrigued me as an idea that actually brings gaming to the stage,” Croff said. “It had such a heartfelt message in support of folks who had been bullied in high school and, in this case, were also dealing with coming out. It was a really good message.”
The secret weapon for pulling off the integral battle scenes has been the choreography of LCC’s John Lennox, who also choreographed “She Kills Monsters.” Storm Kopitsch, the actress playing E-V, brings several years of stage combat training to the role.
“There are so many different little fights between all of these different characters,” Kopitsch said. “It’s all about trying to figure out how your character moves; how your character reacts in a situation where there is combat and being able to sell it.”
Kopitsch, who also starred in “She Kills Monsters,” shares an interest in nerd culture with Croff, making her a natural fit to star in another Vampire Theater Co. production.
“I am a huge geek and a huge nerd.
Every time I describe this show I say, ‘If you took ‘Star Wars,’ ‘Star Trek’ and ‘Firefly’ and put them all together, you get ‘Fight Girl Battle World,’” Kopitsch explained. “It’s something so different that the Lansing community hasn’t really done before — that’s what really draws me to it.”
Though Ixion will eventually return to its typically serious fare, Croff believes in the importance of balancing out the edges with campy action from time to time.
“If anyone remembers spending Saturday morning eating cereal and watching cartoons or reruns of ‘Flash Gordon’ — it’s that kind of fun,” Croff said. “We all need to thaw out after this long winter, it’s a good chance to thaw out and laugh a bit.”
“Fight Girl Battle World”
Ixion Theatre Ensemble
Opens Saturday, March 16, 8 p.m.
The Robin Theatre
1105 S. Washington Ave., Lansing