Image credit: Idle Motion Theatre Company

Idle Motion‘s latest production, Voyager, tells the story of Carrie – a recently bereaved English teacher contemplating taking an historic journey, whilst going on her own journey of personal discovery.

The story takes a little while to really get going, but once it feels like it’s properly started everything becomes rather intriguing. A new initiative (‘Destination Mars’) has been opened to send a teacher into space as part of a manned mission to Mars, in a similar vein to the ‘Teacher in Space’ NASA project that involved the ill-fated Challenger shuttle launch. Carrie is initially apathetic about the idea, but has a sudden flash of inspiration when she learns of her mother’s involvement in the Voyager ‘Golden Record’ project in the 70s – and that this was how her parents met. On a whim, she applies and finds herself catapulted into a strange world of assessments & isolation, which forces her to consider what her priorities really are.

The cast of Voyager
Photo credit: Tom Savage

Staging is minimal and fairly self-contained. The design, appropriately, is very space-age – it actually reminded me of a circuitboard. There is heavy use of projections; quite often when shows do this it can feel like an over-reliance, and little else is done in combination with them. However, in Voyager the projections are a fundamental part of contextualising both the story and our place in the universe. Sound & movement play a key role throughout. From simulating rocket launches, the effect of 7 g on the human body & even commuting on the Tube, to mimicking the fast forwarding of time when Carrie undergoes a 100-hour isolation.

Greg Cebula’s lighting is integral, highlighting moments & accentuating the choreographed movement. A particularly interesting section shows Carrie’s conflict between her ambitions & her relationship, as she is caught between completing the psychological assessment & making wedding plans. All visual aspects work effortlessly, and the dialogue is smartly put together.

The cast of Voyager
Photo credit: Tom Savage

Aside from Grace Chapman (Carrie), the cast all take on multiple roles. The company work well as a team, performing intricate movement & dialogue with ease. Costume changes are just enough for you to be sure of which character each actor is playing at the time – even something as simple as a lanyard around the teachers’ necks. For the most part it is a serious piece, however they do well to get some laughs every now and then, in particular Julian Spooner (Ben/Jason). Chapman’s Carrie is earnest, providing a solid focal point for the rest of the show to revolve around.

The ending is a little predictable (and a bit frustrating for someone who’s always wanted to go into space) but it does show that Carrie has found her place in the universe – much like Earth in Voyager’s final photograph.

The cast of Voyager
Photo credit: Tom Savage

My verdict? A compelling piece of theatre, seamlessly marrying sound, movement & visuals to create an innovative storytelling experience.

Rating: 3*

Voyager runs at the New Diorama Theatre until 11 June 2016. Tickets are available online or from the box office.

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