Edinburgh Fringe 2022
Lonely, single astronauts Mary and Chris meet by chance in outer space and spend a surreal Christmas day together on Mars. This family-friendly show takes us on an absurdist’s journey through what it means to spend time together in person, using intricate miniature sets pieces, physical theatre and puppetry, accompanied with beautifully melancholic live music. Part of the Korean Showcase 2022.
Mary and Chris accidentally meet when they are traveling through space in separate space ships! Their fascinating story is told by a cast of three through narrative storytelling, physical theatre, puppetry and music. The opening images projected on a large screen showing the ascent into space are colourful and beautifully hand drawn. After this the three energetic performers take us on a journey – hoping to find Mars – switching to different styles of presentation. This variety of visuals onstage move the story along and provide different means of expression.
Trunk Theatre Project specialises in developing shows that use small (or tiny) props and sets that can be contained by trunks that are portable. Performers narrate in both English and Korean with two or three pieces of spoken Korean text translated into English and shown on a screen. Live music (electric guitar, flute plus several sound effects) is composed and played by Baek Hahyungki, onstage throughout the show, and is truly a highlight of the piece.
All three performers, Cho Yeeun (also the playwright and director), Ryu Wonjun and Park Hyeon, wear black jumpsuits suggesting astronaut kit and they use short technospeak incorporating astronaut terms as they prepare to lift off and dock, which is fun. Other highlights are a physical sequence, discovering what’s in the small mysterious suitcases – and shadow puppetry. The simple and self-sufficient unfussy props and containers are all used well and become different places and things as needed.
Evoking space and the stars or constellations by simple physical movement with hand held torches is interesting and changes the pace – perhaps incorporating more physical sequences could enhance the storytelling in other places of the show.
At one hour long the show could benefit from streamlining – with differentiation and character depth of Chris and Mary from the start. For example, the wonderful final scene where the performers took their time, emoting warmly and individually when they showed their personalities was very effective. This scene also reinforced one of the themes of Mary, Chris, Mars – to spend time with loved ones and have time to reflect.
This production is imaginative and will appeal to families with an interest in space, astronauts and object/shadow puppetry.