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Going Dark

Traverse Theatre, Edinburgh
4 stars
Seeing stars is everything in Hattie Naylor's beautiful new play, made
in collaboration with Tom Espiner of the multi-media based Sound&Fury
company. In an impressive technical display that leaves the audience in
the dark just as Naylor leaves Max, her astronomer protagonist, it's
made painfully clear in Mark Espiner and composer Dan Jones' production
just how the centre of our universe can be rocked in the blink of an
eye.

With the audience ushered into a pod-like construction on the Traverse
stage that allows full black-out, it begins with Max giving a
planetarium style lecture, complete with a map of the galaxy on the
ceiling of Ales Valasek's intimately-styled set. If all this initially
resembles a chill-out room take on The Sky At Night, things are upended
within minutes when Max discovers he's slowly but surely losing his
sight. Continuing an ongoing dialogue with his tellingly heard but not
seen six year old son Leo, Max is forced to find new ways of seeing in
an ever dimmer world.

For all the appliance of science asking big questions about how we
perceive the world, it's Max's very personal story that matters here.
The ambience which Jones and the Espiners set up is immaculately
realised, and sets the perfect mood for John Mackay's understated and
moving performance. Watching him frantically attempt to prepare Leo's
packed lunch blind-folded has a barbed comic edge to its essential
tragedy. As Max comes to terms with his future, however, with the
cosmos as infinite as it ever was in this whisperingly intense
meditation, the light of his life, it seems, was right there all along.

The Herald, November 14th 2011

ends

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