The two-woman crew of the ‘Lily of the Nile’ spacecraft are returning from the purple-field planet in a mission that could save Earth from the ravaging effects of climate change. Dr Taylor (Kat Glass) is an alien micro-bacterium scientist dedicated to her research and guided by her faith. Jessica Holland (Courtney Bassett) is the young, sarcastic pilot in charge of returning Dr Taylor’s extra-terrestrial samples back home.
Luke Thornborough’s conversational script explored the many different ways one can feel alone. “Like the space between stars,” Alone’s characters reflect on their experiences of loneliness. Both women share stories of being sidelined in their respective fields. Faced with a crisis, Dr Taylor feels abandoned by God. Will the damaged ship cause the pair to abandon each other?
We watch the action on the ship’s flight deck. A convincing pilot’s console sits centre stage. On either side sits Dr Taylor’s desk and the small, chrome kitchenette. Holland makes two-second noodles with a shiny light-up cylinder. It is a clever way to imply the not-too-distant future setting. I would like to see how the design team could develop the futuristic props further. The spacecraft gadgets had the potential to add more spectacle to the stationary set.
When the Lily of the Nile encounters an unexpected asteroid field, the light and sound design evoke panic. Alarms ring and lights flash. Heavy wheezing of the compromised ship crept across the space in Harbourside’s Cable Room like an unwelcome guest. Had the show been able to perform in its original venue, Te Auaha, these special effects would be all the more thrilling.
In the beginning, the acting style in Alone falls between naturalism and slightly forced. When we are first introduced to Holland, she dances and lip-sync’s alone to David Bowie’s ‘Starman’. In her dance-like-no-one’s-watching moment it feels like she is holding back.
By about act two, the pair develop more natural conversation. Their convincing rapor comes to life when Dr Taylor discovers a hilarious error in the mission’s branding. Glass delivers honest panic in her more serious monologues and high intensity when Holland questions Taylor’s faith.
If you are a fan of science-fiction thrillers, don’t miss this high-quality Fringe Festival entry. I hope Dusty Room Productions’ next show isn’t too far, far away.
ALONE is on at Te Auaha until Saturday 6 March. Book your tickets here.