A mysterious incident leaves the four crew members of a Union spaceship severely injured and forces stowaway Ren to put them in stasis. Bar the company of the spacecraft A.I. utterly isolated in space, Ren tries to maintain the ship, her wits and the lives of all involved.
The intimacy of the White Bear Theatre and its relatively empty stage (the spacecraft is hinted at mostly through some pipes and a door to a security compartment) convey the feeling of desolation and claustrophobia the protagonist experiences. The beginning of the play transfers the frustrating helplessness of Ren to the audience; her forced passivity and boredom are both painful to her and the spectators.
Liam Fleming puts this “confined room” Sci-Fi drama boldly on stage with an all female cast. Nevertheless it seems this would have worked better on a bigger budget allowing a more elaborate stage design and proper costumes. Naomi Stafford gives her angsty, stubborn and validation-hungry Ren all she can to compensate for all that she is not given in terms of props and interaction partners. The play picks up in pace as Ceridwen Smith, the Emergency Hologram, enters the stage. In an impressive performance Ceridwen plays five inherently different characters in one, but never fails to make the distinction astonishingly clear with a complete transformation in voice, gestures and movement.
The greatest drawback of the performance is the, at times, clumsy writing of the play.
The premise of the story is that Ren wants to apologise to the ship’s Captain, but her idea to do this by hiding on a spaceship about to embark on a six-month mission is questionable at best. Other details further take away from the story, such as the ever-changing route of the spaceship or the “Hologram” being tactile (it hugs, drags and hurts Ren) while the very definition of a hologram seems to suggest it is merely a projected image. Regrettably, the most interesting issues fall flat, for example the evolving AI of the Hologram or the resolution to what actually happened to the crew at the start. Stylistically interesting ideas, such as the “fast forwarding” of time through Naomi Stafford’s frantic choppy movements can unfortunately not cheat the flaws of this production.
Reviewed by Lisa Theresa Downey-Dent
Photo: Sofi Berenger
Stasis is playing at the White Bear Theatre until 25 April 2015. Click here for tickets