Skip to main content

Pioneer

Traverse Theatre, Edinburgh
Three stars

In a virtual world, what does it take to change the universe? Such dilemmas are put under the microscope in this devised exploration of lives in orbit from the Curious Directive company, revived here following an Edinburgh Festival Fringe run for the Edinburgh International Science Festival in association with the Norfolk and Norwich Festival and Watford Palace Theatre.

Set in the year 2029, the space race has set its sights on Mars, with couples in particular being favoured in a billion dollar project backed by an Indian philanthropist. But Imke has lost her partner Oscar en route to the red planet, and Imke's sister Maartje must be hauled from the depths of her own researches to save Imke's sanity. The great-grandsons of Russian space pioneer Sergei Korolev, meanwhile, are on their own rocket-fuelled road trip to recreate the stratospheric thrill of it all by any means necessary.

Jack Lowe's production immerses its cast of six in a bubble of groovy retro-futuristic cubes, hi-tech projections and a soporific ambient piano score to play out the show's criss-crossing narratives. There are so many strands, in fact, that it at times feels akin to a 1990s study of Generation X, except here the characters have found meaning to their lives and the stakes are infinitely higher.

It doesn't entirely gel, but in what is ultimately an analysis of ethics and the sleights-of-hand used by governments and big business to justify the means to an end, it's an interesting companion piece to Kai Fischer's new show, the similarly cosmos-inclined Last Dream (On Earth), which opened last week. The truth may still be out there, but its not quite what it seems.
 
The Herald, April 6th 2015
 
ends

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

The Maids

Dundee Rep

Two sisters sit in glass cases either side of the stage at the start of Eve Jamieson's production of Jean Genet's nasty little study of warped aspiration and abuse of power. Bathed in red light, the women look like artefacts in some cheap thrill waxworks horror-show, or else exhibits in a human zoo. Either way, they are both trapped, immortalised in a freak-show possibly of their own making.

Once the sisters come to life and drape themselves in the sumptuous bedroom of their absent mistress, they raid her bulging wardrobe to try on otherwise untouchable glad-rags and jewellery. As they do, the grotesque parody of the high-life they aspire to turns uglier by the second. When the Mistress returns, as played with daring abandon by Emily Winter as a glamour-chasing narcissist who gets her kicks from drooling over the criminal classes, you can't really blame the sisters for their fantasy of killing her.

Slabs of sound slice the air to punctuate each scene of Mart…

Phoebe Waller-Bridge - Fleabag

Phoebe Waller-Bridge is a busy woman. The thirty-two year old actress who burst onto our TV screens as writer and star of Fleabag, the tragi-comic sort of sit-com about a supposedly independent woman on the verge is currently overseeing Killing Eve, her new TV drama which she's written for BBC America. As an actress, Waller-Bridge is also filming a big screen project which we can't talk about, but which has already been outed as being part of the ongoing Star Wars franchise.

These are both pretty good reasons why Waller-Bridge won't be appearing in the brief Edinburgh Festival Fringe revival of the original stage play of Fleabag, when it opens next week at the Underbelly, where it was first unleashed to the world in 2013. In her place, Maddie Rice will take on the role of the potty-mouthed anti-heroine after touring Vickie Jones' production for Waller-Bridge and Jones' DryWrite company in association with Soho Theatre. This doesn't mean Waller-Bridge has turned…

The Divide

King's Theatre
Four stars

Everything is black and white in Alan Ayckbourn's new play, a six hour two part epic set in a dystopian future where men and women are segregated from each other following the aftermath of an unspecified plague. Into this landscape, the secret diaries of brother and sister Elihu and Soween are brought to life by Jake Davies and Erin Doherty with a wide-eyed lightness of touch as their hormones get the better of them when they both hit puberty.
Annabel Bolton's production for the Old Vic, EIF and Karl Sydow begins with a TED Talk type lecture that reveals the back story to how things turned out this way. It ends with a sentimental love story designed to tug the heart-strings. Inbetween, there is teenage rebellion aplenty against the regime's institutionalised repression. Liberation comes through art and sex, which, in such extreme circumstances become even greater life forces.

With both plays told through the siblings' diaries alongside ass…