The Man from Earth, Cerebral sci-fi drama hits the stage

By Erin E. O’Neill

The Marietta Times

eoneill@mariettatimes.com

John Oldman has a secret.

When the middle-aged history professor unexpectedly resigns from the university where he teaches, his friends come looking for an explanation. What they are told is something unbelievable: John is immortal and it is time for him to move on before his secret is discovered.

“The Man from Earth” is the latest production at Mid Ohio Valley Players, directed by first-time director Kermit Polan, who is also a seasoned performer and the organization’s president.

“It’s been challenging and fun,” Polan said. “I’ve learned a lot that will help me going forward.”

The play was written by Jerome Bixby and adapted by Richard Schenkman, who directed a 2007 movie adaptation. Bixby, who was a science fiction writer and wrote several episodes of “Star Trek,” completed the screenplay on his deathbed in 1998.

“The cast has been great; it’s a difficult play because there’s not a lot of action, it’s very cerebral,” Polan said.

Jane Mancini, 57, of Parkersburg, portrays Edith, a colleague of John’s who is part of the group that comes to confront him. John’s answers are not something that Edith has within herself to comprehend.

“She’s an art history professor but she doesn’t make art, she sees it more analytically; she’s also a Christian literalist,” explained Mancini. “I am a Christian literalist but (Edith) is more close-minded than I am. I’ve had enough biology and science.”

Mancini has had roles on and off the stage at both MOVP and the Actors Guild of Parkersburg. Of this show, she says the cast and crew have been wonderful to work with.

“This is a good show; it deals with love and loss, how to deal with loss and makes you think about, why do we believe the way that we believe,” she said.

Another antagonist of sorts is Gruber played by A.J. Hamler, a Williamstown resident who has recently returned to community theater after a long absence.

“I haven’t done a stage production in probably 15 or 16 years … (this production) has brought back a lot of memories,” Hamler said. “I was a fan of ‘Star Trek’ and I had seen the movie so I was excited to audition for Gruber. I think he is an important character because he ties together both sides of the story.”

“The Man from Earth” will be performed the next two weekends. Enjoy dinner prior to the show at downtown restaurant partners to receive 10 percent off the total bill with proof of advanced ticket purchase. For more information on the dinner and a show program or to purchase tickets, visit midohiovalleyplayers.org.

If you go

¯ What: “The Man from Earth,” a production of Mid Ohio Valley Players.

¯ Where: Players Theatre, 229 Putnam St., Marietta.

¯ When: Jan. 13, 14, 20 and 21 at 8 p.m., Jan. 22 at 3 p.m.

¯ Cost: Adults $12, seniors/students $10, youth $7.

¯ Tickets: Available at midohiovalleyplayers.org, the Marietta-Washington County Convention and Visitors Bureau, Marty’s Print Shop and at the box office one hour prior to showtime.

¯ Sponsor: Dr. William Cline.

Cast

John Oldman: David Scheimann

Dan: Ken Bowald

Harry: Mack McHale

Edith: Jane Mancini

Sandy: Rachel Polan

Art: JR Wells

Linda: Allison Wallace

Gruber: A.J. Hamler

Moving man 1: Andy Sands

Moving man 2: Erik Helander

Director: Kermit Polan

 

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