A darkened industrial chamber of indistinct shapes shrouded in oily rags illuminated only by the red light of hard-wired commlinks, mechanical noises repeating their endless processes, in spacesuits two explorers enter the hulk of the De Nova Super, lost for seven years, the noise of their recycled breath echoing in the claustrophobic space, metal persisting where flesh has failed.
The onboard computer MAG (Mastered Artificial Gravastar) issuing meaningless information, garbled overlapping voices, new arrivals Cole and Special are able to ascertain that radioactivity and toxicity are within acceptable limits and remove their helmets to begin the work of repairing the ship to bring it home to Earth, but as they revive the systems of the De Nova Super, what else is waking with it?
Running at the Box, a converted shipping container outside the George Square Theatre, The De Nova Super is a science fiction physical theatre performance from A Brilliant Everything, a collaboration of Alex Hughes and Will Palmer who co-wrote and directed, designed the sound, constructed the props and costumes and then sweated within them for their art.
The narrative somewhat abstract, the broad intention is apparent though some scenes are easier to follow than others, but the two personalities are distinct from the outset, Cole the thinker and leader, the more sympathetic Special, not so much, while observing their actions the MAG is informative but deeply unhelpful in its contributions to their efforts.
It is the physicality of the presentation which sells the show, hardware with punch buttons and a design ethic reminiscent of Alien and Outland though on a fraction of the budget, illuminated bubble-wrap a reminder of mid-seventies Doctor Who, the cramped space lit by shafts of light punching through the smoky atmosphere illuminating only the end of the line and the palpable anguish of the characters.
The De Nova Super thought to have been the last, best hope for the survival of humanity, now it only harbours desperation and sadness principally conveyed by Hughes, and while the show could benefit from a slightly sharper focus it is technically superb and the duo deserve huge praise for mounting such an ambitious show and taking on the challenge of the Fringe.