I think can safely say that I’ve discovered one of my favourite performances at this year’s Fringe in Zach Zultana: Space Gigolo. From the intense stare that lasts the first few seconds after the lights come up, the explosion into the narrative, and the hilariously narrated montage sequences, Jeff Leard certainly is a performer who knows what he’s doing – and loves it too.
A solo show about one man’s journey to topple an selfish capitalist mining magnate in space (yeah, we’ve all been there), Zach Zultana has space opera-esque qualities that are totally undermined in the best of ways by the one-man show format. Instead of the sweeping panoramic shots that one might expect for scene establishment in Star Wars or Star Trek, Leard lunches into the most energetic, frenzied, and articulate descriptions of such panoramic shots lasting for several minutes at a time –and since he is launching into these descriptions at such breakneck speed, each shot in the montage is spoken so quickly that you only have a second or two to visualize the scene in your head before Leard moves on to the next shot, and the resulting film montage that plays in your head (in real time!) is complemented by the hilarious sight of a man in Underarmor throwing himself around onstage throughout.
Leard is not only prepared (I noticed few, if any, line flubs) but he also has great presence in the moment, speaking directly to the audience as himself a few times, bouncing off overflow noise from the show in the next room, and even his own giggle-worthy admission that he and Zach Zultana sound awfully similar, which is really is “just poor voice work” (I know, it doesn’t scan as well when you read it but I was there and it was great). The script itself paints an imaginative world that is equally wondrous and depressing. The plot’s lack of originality is perhaps the weakest part of the show; if you’ve seen a sci-fi-epic before then you can probably guess where it’s all going. That is, if you can manage to extract your brain from the thrall of Leard’s performance.
Zach Zultana: Space Gigolo is so enjoyable I wanted to stop taking notes for this review and just watch – I can’t think of much higher praise than that.

Zach Zultana: Space Gigolo

An Active Salad Production
Written by Ron Fromstein
Performed by Jeff Leard
Running Time: 60 minutes
Playing at Arts Court Library
Tuesday June 23 9:30 pm
Friday June 26 7:30 pm
Saturday June 27 6:30 pm