Mary, Chris, Mars tells the story of two astronauts who share a Christmas Day together after a chance encounter pushes them away from the crippling isolation of their solitude and into the comfort of one another. The piece, created by Trunk Theatre Project, is a part of the Korean Showcase, which features seven productions throughout this year’s Fringe across the forms of theatre, dance, and music.
Unique blend of multimedia, puppetry, and live music
True to the spirit of the project’s name, the unique blend of multimedia, puppetry, and live music is presented through a simplicity of what can mostly be transported inside of trunks, creating a retro collection of dioramas. The trio of performers use an overhead projector — the source of a delightful ending credits sequence — to fashion a rolling vision of the solar system, as well as manual subtitle slides during select moments of Korean dialogue. It may feel like there’s a tension between the text in their first language and the desire to cater to an audience that primarily speaks english. However, the bilingual nature of the piece is narratively justified as Mary and Chris quickly learn to communicate with one another despite not sharing the same language; “the earth passes messages not through words.”
There are several clunky transitions where the storytelling momentum falls away, and the piece too often feels tonally scattered as it moves abruptly between thematic sincerity and humor that veers on being ridiculous. At times, the performances can feel overly boisterous, which leaves it difficult for the emotional beats to successfully invite us in. Some of the trunk-based elements of puppetry are far more impressive in design than in their actual execution. But the astronaut puppets, which are created by wearing a glove with the back of the hand facing the audience, offers the most expressive moments of puppeteering through the dexterity found in using fingers as the limbs of these minature characters.
“Solitude comes unexpectedly,” Mary, Chris, Mars reminds us. But so may a much needed sense of companionship; a brief moment that lasts forever.