The Mars One Foundation plans to establish a human settlement on Mars by 2024. They received over 250, 000 applications for the one way mission. With this unsettling information Square Peg Theatre combine impressive physicality with captivating multimedia by Owen Rafferty to explore exactly what makes a person decide to leave earth forever.
This is a beautiful and haunting ode to space exploration, but it’s still got a way to go.
Anna (Katie Robinson) is one such applicant giving up a life on Earth to pursue the unknown. She’s signed herself up for the ride of her life, an applicant of a Big Brother-style programme but in space, cameras on you twenty four hours a day. It could almost be a version of The Truman Show, only Anna’s chosen it and the only people she’s going to be talking to are her fellow crew members – a failed physics teacher (Michael White) and a film enthusiast electrician (Dominic Myerscough).
Fuelled by a media tycoon, the public pressure to perform is on. There’s just one problem, any signal from control has vanished. Alone in space, Icarus can’t help its obvious parallels with Alfonso Cuarón’s Oscar winning Gravity except the special effects remain rooted securely in human bodies. In fact the physicality of creating a zero gravity atmosphere is one of the most impressive feats the production pulls off, with all members of the cast at times taking on the role of space itself, guiding objects artfully through the air until they inevitably collide with a cast member, bobbing softly along.
Icarus falls from the sky as everyday life continues on peacefully in Breughel’s famous rendition, so too do the astronauts in Icarus fall away into oblivion with the world happily unaware. As the crew hurtle into space the line between reality and publicity stunt seems to falter. Anna’s convinced it’s all part of the company’s plan, it’s all a game; as an audience we’re never sure. The production comes to a sudden and disappointing stop and the potential for what could have been explored within the play is deeply frustrating; many questions are left unanswered, characters breezed over with minimal development. This is a beautiful and haunting ode to space exploration, but it’s still got a way to go.