Humans make illogical decisions, or at least so thinks one Mr. Spock, the right-hand man to Starship Enterprise’s Captain Kirk. For example, in 2009, Atomic Arts, a local live theater group, decided to stage a free production of “Star Trek: The Original Series” in one of Portland’s many public parks. Now boldly going into its fourth year, the results, to paraphrase Spock, have been fascinating.
This time around, fans get more insight into the pointy-eared first officer’s mindset with a performance of the “Journey to Babel” episode. Starting at 5 p.m. every Saturday and Sunday in August, the Trek in the Park troupe dons intergalactic outfits and plays out the 1967 episode that introduced Ambassador Sarek, Spock’s disapproving father, and showed how everyone’s favorite Vulcan came to be Dr. McCoy’s foil.
This year, the performance is staged under the shade of the St. Johns Bridge in grassy Cathedral Park, thought to be one of the landing spots of Oregon’s own brave explorers, Lewis and Clark. The new, larger space will accommodate more Trekkers, and the audience is encouraged to beam up picnic baskets, blankets and low chairs to make the performance more comfortable. The show is even better when you watch the episode in advance (the CBS website has a clip of Spock’s awkward family reunion and a bit of alien diplomacy in action), so you can see how closely the cast sticks to the script — and anticipate some of the great fight scenes.
Trek in the Park is perfect entertainment for a summer’s evening. If you asked Spock, he’d estimate the statistical likelihood of the show being great fun at greater than 99 percent.