On the smoke filled stage, they look aloft to the stars, but whether in fear or hope is unclear. It is August 2057, and the Earth is in a bad way, with rising temperatures, rising sea levels, rising population and dwindling food supplies. Another place must be found for humanity to live, and with hesitant steps mankind has pushed out to the Moon, to the ISS and then to the disaster of Mars in 2026 which ultimately did more damage to the space programme than advancement.
It is a year since Jenny was interviewed and examined, and she thought little more of it, living a quiet life with her boyfriend Tom, shown in a fast moving montage of tableaux of nights in and out with family and friends and pizza before she is invited back for a second interview and more rounds of tests and a binding non-disclosure agreement which forbids her even to speak to Tom.
The meeting is with the agency which governs interplanetary travel and exploration, and the mission is to be a solo one way trip to Europa, a preformed habitat which will bury itself in the ice to be shielded from the Jovian radiation, the successful candidate then to broadcast daily messages of inspiration to Earth to rekindle excitement in the space programme.
Stella Blackman is Jenny, eager for the mission, unsure of herself, unhappy that she must lie to Tom, torn over the obligation to leave him; Christopher Yarnell is Tom, enthusiastic, endlessly enquiring and theorising, ultimately devastated when the truth becomes apparent in a global broadcast, not even revealed to him in person.
On the other side are mission director Mr Walker (Martin Chime) whose dedication to the dream masks an ugly and unforgiving determination, Jenny’s trainer Mason (Jordan Turner) who wants her to succeed but is caught between his own doubts about her suitability and the demands of Mr Walker, and the psychiatrist (Lucy Bishop) who questions, questions, questions, but never shows any hint of what she thinks.
With minimal props well used and a creative use of low tech, it is primarily through the use of mobile lights they convey the impression of high tech, and the cast are uniformly excellent. The first production from newly formed physical theatre group The Outbound Project, they do not conform to the typical tall, lithe body type expected of that art and are all the more interesting for it, the capable performers crafting an engaging, moving and immediate show which both examines and questions the outward urge.
The Mission continues until August 29th at the Pleasance