The Erebus Project has an interesting premise. Sam, an Aspergic Ph.D. student, is developing a computer programme to eavesdrop on a person’s thoughts. But what if the subject is then wired up at the point of death? Will this reveal whether there is an afterlife? Thus arises The Erebus Project, Erebus being the primordial Greek God of darkness who is associated with death.
This felt more like a work in progress than a finished piece.
Sam finds his subject in the form of Rory (a diminutive of Aurora, the Greek mythological goddess of dawn). Rory is terminally ill with cancer, has been given just two weeks to live, and she readily becomes the first formal subject of The Project.
As it turns out, this is less a sci-fi play about the possibility of life after death and more a family drama about love and loss. There is nothing wrong with this in principle and there are some poignantly played moments as Rory’s death approaches. However, expectations had already been set too high with the original premise for it to be de-emphasised in favour of a domestic drama about who is in love with whom.
References to Buddhism, quantum physics and Greek mythology promise much – the repeated refrain of ‘Merrily, merrily, merrily, merrily, life is but a dream!’ set up an expectation in this reviewer of an exploration of ontology and reality, in which death might have the final say. Despite a suggestive ending, none of these themes are fully or satisfyingly developed and none of the performances are strong enough to carry an unfocused script that is trying to be two things at once. This felt more like a work in progress than a finished piece.