Adelaide Fringe 2016
Ice Station tells the story of a team of US divers, who vanish while exploring three thousand feet beneath the ice shelf. After sending out an SOS, the Wilkes Ice Station draws a rapid deployment team of Marines…and someone else! A horrific firefight, a plunge into a killer whale infested pool and a battle for survival is what makes Ice Station riveting. In Matthew Reilly’s words, ‘It’s time to bring Ice Station to life!’
This is a powerful audio performance that is beautifully controlled to draw out all the drama and characterization of the original novel. The setting is minimal as it’s all about the voices. The supporting sound is carefully balanced and helpful to the narrative. On stage, the large cast sit in a formal semi circle with their scripts and microphones in front of them. A performance like this relies utterly on two elements: strong voices and strong writing.
Benjamin Maio Mackay has done an outstanding job translating a complex and exciting novel into a strong audio play. The pace is just as fast and the action just as exciting as in the original novel. The cast have stunning focus and the voices are clear and convey the narrative beautifully. Stand out performances were given by Josh Mensch (Scarecrow), Benjamin Maio Mackay (Book) and Scott Reynolds (Rebound). Their commitment and voice control were just stunning.
The voices were supported by the sound crew who used echoes and other variations to the natural voices to recreate the locations of the various scenes most elegantly. A couple of the actors were hard to hear, notably where the microphones were not quite angled correctly. The actors needed to keep their performance to their voices throughout the show. Some of the actions suited the words and whilst that’s understandable, it detracted from the audio form, particularly when Hollywood (played by Adam Bates) died, he waved his hands around and it actually looked as though he was sending the show up. I don’t suppose for a minute this was his intention, but it didn’t work.
I think it also helped that I’m an avid Matthew Reilly fan, so I knew the series well. That said, the three parts of the novel contained in this production were truly exciting: the next installments will be fascinating too. For a very different night out, this is a dynamic and gripping production.