Theatre Review: The Mars Project – The Blue Room Theatre, Perth (Performances through May 7th)

  • Simon Clark
  • April 27, 2016
  • Comments Off on Theatre Review: The Mars Project – The Blue Room Theatre, Perth (Performances through May 7th)

The Mars Project is the new work from writer Will O’Mahony and The Skeletal System, the team behind the acclaimed Great White. The Mars Project tells the story of Wren and Sam, Sister and Brother, detailing their diverging lives, as one tries to reach Mars and one struggles to speak – Sam has autism.

The Mars Project will surely bring O’Mahony and The Skeletal System more acclaim; simply it is one of the best pieces of theatre I’ve had the pleasure to watch. It’s seamless storytelling, and packs an emotional hit, but importantly it broaches a difficult topic with sensitivity, humour and warmth. The depiction of Sam is sympathetic, but also not overly sentimental.

Yet Sam’s story is just one part of the work; Wren’s story allows the team to poke some fun at the celebrity driven culture; the reality TV way of living, as Wren attempts to become one of the first people to make it to Mars. Cue auditions, isolation training and Ari Goldesque talent managers. One of the strengths of the play is its ability to counterpoint the more emotional moments with humour. The Mars Project will have you laughing, and then probably crying – but they always seem to know when you need to laugh.

The acting through the play was quality; most of the small cast play multiple roles throughout the piece, but manage to make each different character distinct enough. O’Mahony was wonderful as self-help guru Robin – injecting him with just the right amount of John Edwards, Steve Jobs and televangelist, whilst O’Mahonoy also impresses as Billy Mars another autistic student at the education centre. Andrea Gibbs’ gave a great performance; I’ve mostly only ever seen her in comedic works on stage; but in this she was not only incredibly funny, but also perfectly captured the vulnerability and emotional exhaustion of Sam’s mother.

Steve Turner was a delight as talent agent Sparkle, an Ari Gold type character (though perhaps with a touch of Trump too), Turner gave the character the right amount of brashness and bravado. Felicity McKay was great as Wren; and it was interesting to see her character develop over the course of the play’s 65 minutes, moving from someone reasonably shy and introverted to someone who may or may not do the unthinkable. Though it is perhaps Luke Fewster, whose performance I was most impressed with; he may have spent the vast majority of the play not saying a word; but he captured your attention none the less. Fewster was superb as Sam – a captivating performance that erred on unnerving – also quite skilled with the hula-hoop too.

The set design and lighting perfectly complimented the action on stage; the set in particular was sparse, which allowed for multiple locations to be created; and it was so wonderful to see a work that wasn’t afraid of silence; and when there was music, it didn’t feel forced, but relevant to the story.

The Mars Project is a must-see work. It’s quite simply brilliant. It is a captivating work, that will make you laugh; that might even make you cry, but will certainly leave you entertained and moved by it. The Mars Project is a beautifully realised work; and you should get tickets whilst you can.

The Mars Project is on now at the Blue Room Theatre, Perth until May 7th for more information and to purchase tickets visit HERE

The reviewer attended opening night on 21st April

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Simon Clark

Books Editor. An admirer of songs and reader of books. Simon has a PhD in English and Comparative Literature. All errant apostrophes are his own.