Picture 2: DS9's Armin Shimmerman, at the foot of the stage, showed up mid-presentation to encourage the boys
Picture 3: Ethan Phillips doing his Solo reading while Robert Picardo is concentrating on the lines
Picture 4: The Doctor and Neelix in the Delta Quadrant
Picture 5: A lovely presentation after the play where Robert sang and Ethan played the saxophone
One of the biggest highlights of my Friday, during the Las Vegas Star Trek Convention at the Hilton, was to go and see House Call in the DeForest Kelley Theatre. This 45-minute one-act two-character hysterical play, co-written by Robert Picardo, Ethan Phillips, and Ted Kopulos, tells the audience about what happened to the Voyager Crew after their return to the Alpha Quadrant.
Told by the Doctor, played by the ever wonderful Robert Picardo, and by Neelix, played by the incredible Ethan Phillips, the play opens with the Doctor as he is preparing himself to go on a date with Seven of Nine in a very funny scene where he is applying too much of a perfume preparation with the computer’s help. He is then disrupted by a communication coming from his former Voyager comrade, Mister Neelix, back in the Delta Quadrant.
Following a lively and hysterical conversation between the two characters, the audience discovers what the members of the Voyager crew are now doing since coming home. We learn, for example, that Kathryn Janeway is now an Admiral but that she is still in command of her own ship, and we also learn that the Doctor is now teaching and has already gone on a date with Seven before (in a very hilarious retelling). However, the light-hearted reunion turns into something a bit more serious - though never dramatic -when Neelix admits to the Doctor that he needs his help because his stepson is sick and that he is worried about him (something having to do with spots) since no one else seems to be able to do anything to help. At which time, the Doctor offers to have his program be sent to the Delta Quadrant and to help personally. The two friends are reunited, the Doctor cures the young man, they make jokes when the Doctor claims he has dreamed he was named Joe (the Doctor’s indecision to chose a name has been a constant on the show and we learned, in the last episode, part of which takes place 20 years into the future, that he has finally chosen the very mundane name Joe), they burst into two songs from Man of La Mancha and then the Doctor returns to the Alpha Quadrant.
Both Ethan Phillips and Robert Picardo were in fine form, and the dialogue was witty and true to the tone and personality of each of the two characters. It was wonderful to see the both of them slip so easily back into characters that they have lived with and we have known for over 20 years. While I expected them to be fully dressed and made up as their Voyager characters (I had never seen the play before), the presentation was more low-key and closer in style to a play-reading. They both stood at a lectern and read their parts from there, with Robert Picardo at one point going over to Ethan Phillips’ side in a simulation of his arrival to the Delta Quadrant, complete with voice-made sound effects to the utter delight of the audience.
The play was hilarious and the audience appeared completely delighted by the experience. The easy banter between both Robert Picardo and Ethan Phillips was a source of much fun for the fans who clearly adore them and the rapport and evident friendship between the two actors provided some of the highlights of the show. At one point, Ethan started rambling at his lectern and Bob had to tell him to stop it. Believe me, it was very funny, and they went at it on and off during the run of the play. It was glorious. When House Call ended the audience rose to their feet and warmly applauded the two men to show their appreciation.
A small gem, I wish House Call would be filmed so that everyone could get to enjoy it. What I will remember the most, beside the amazing performances, is that the fans had fun, the actors were wonderful and funny, and I believe the play was a success all around. If you ever get to a Star Trek convention and House Call is being played, you have to see it, believe me, you wont regret it.