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.
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.
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.
My verdict? A compelling piece of theatre, seamlessly marrying sound, movement & visuals to create an innovative storytelling experience.
Voyager runs at the New Diorama Theatre until 11 June 2016. Tickets are available online or from the box office.