About Space 50 Reviews Tour Dates Past Performances
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In making this new touring show, Niki McCretton tapped straight into the heart of a harmless romantic obsession. As a girl she longed to travel into space. Now, in an age when space tourism is feasible, she and her collaborative team have used theatrical skills to engineer a clever, gently ironic and much lower-cost alternative.
Although it offers up facts, anecdotes and film about the Russian and American space race, Space 50 (named after a half-century of space exploration) is far more the knowing flowering of childhood fantasy than a history lesson. McCretton shares her fertile ground with her fellow performer Jamie Wood. As a teenage surfer, he tells her, he found in the ocean the kind of gravity-defying freedom that McCretton always imagined she'd find drifting in the heavens.
Directed by Guy Dartnell, this commission by the University of Bath's Institute of Interdisciplinary Arts possesses a genuine low-tech charm. A wall of cardboard boxes serves as a multiple projection screen. Simply opening up a couple of flaps creates a capsule-like space in which McCretton, with or without Wood, can either remember long-ago dreams or pretend to be living them.
Moderately engaging by themselves, together the performers play like a pair of dedicated, inventive school kids. They conduct amusing endurance contests: who can balance on one leg the longest or blow bubbles through a straw without stopping for breath. The walkie-talkies they use lend their voices just the right touch of long-distance distortion. There are song and dance interludes, too — a lying-down duet accompanied by ukulele and yodeling, and a nifty soft-shoe shuffle on sand subsequently used for a magical mini-cam sequence.
The Times 27/2/07
"Came to see Space 50 at The Brewhouse last night and just wanted to say how fantastic I thought it was ... so beautifully made ... it drew me in completely, off on my own journey of memory and wonder. By the time you came to ride your horse towards the trees, I was crying -- and smiling at the same time! Such a jewel. Can't get the image of the floating space person, or your moon walk, or the dance in the dust -- or so many things -- out of my mind. Well good, let them stay there! Thank you so much, Niki."
The Brewhouse Theatre & Arts Centre, Taunton, Somerset, U.K.
"I came to Space 50 on Saturday and thoroughly enjoyed it. I was born in '62 and remember -- hazily -- the optimism and wonder of the whole '60s and early '70s space race. I thought your creation perfectly captured the melancholy feel of looking back on that time. The ghostly projected astronauts were stunning. Great stuff!"
Prof. N. J. Mitchell
Premiere Performance at the ICIA Arts Theatre, University Of Bath