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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

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