‘The Mars Project’ reviewed by Gordon the Optom

by April 20, 2016

‘The Mars Project’ is having a premiere at The Blue Room Theatre, 53 James Street, Northbridge. Written by local award-winning playwright, Will O’Mahony for ‘The Skeletal System’ production company, these fast moving, 65-minute performances are nightly at 8.30 pm until Saturday 7th May. There is an extra 6.00 pm matinee on Saturday 7th May.

 

For the set, all of the walls are painted black – effectively a black box. Along the rear wall hang four brightly coloured, hula-hoops. The mood lighting has been well-designed by Chris Donnelly and smoothly operated by Meabh Walton.

        A man (Luke Fewster) enters the stage and states that in the same way as the brave pioneers came to Australia 200 years ago, the world is now looking for new pioneers to venture to Mars and populate.

       At a public meeting, young and enthusiastic ‘self-help’ guru, Robin (Will O’Mahony), bounces onto the stage and immediately engages the audience members; telling them that the self-centred ‘Me first’ approach is how they should be thinking. Continuing, he gives the onlooker 5 important aims in life.

      The lights rise to show us a domestic sitting room, where an exasperated father (Steve Turner) and his distraught wife (Andrea Gibbs) are discussing their autistic son, Sam (Luke Fewster). They are wondering why Sam and his visits to the ‘character developing’ special school seems to be having no affect whatsoever, whilst other youngsters improve greatly. There are students such as autistic Billy (Will O’Mahony), who seems to have conquered every known fact relating to the planet Mars.

      Sam’s twin sister, Wren (Felicity McKay) finds herself being in the last 200 applicants for the Mars expedition, however, Sam relies heavily on her love and care.

 

This is a beautiful tale that will connect with almost everyone. Writer / director, Will O’Mahony has just the right balance between humour and tragedy. The facts are fed in a way that the audience can accept and yet not feel lectured to. The cast, each of whom plays several very different characters, are magnificent, displaying the subtle twitches of a nervous autistic child’s hands, to the inconsolable parents’ tragic life – an extra special performance from Andrea. Then there is the distressed sister who wants to do her best for her brother, but all he wants to do is orbit around the room with his hula-hoop (incredible control).

This was an unusual play, reaching out to new boundaries, capturing emotions and blending them with hope. A first class play presented lovingly by a brilliant and talented team.

This is the kind of play that will be remembered for years to come.