Pale Blue Dot (La Boite Theatre Company)
La Boite Theatre, Roundhouse Theatre
July 19 – August 9
There are a number of tell-tale symptoms that you may experience if you have been abducted by aliens, many of which are most notable after a night of drinking, the “Pale Blue Dot” pre-show announcement tells the audience. This is exactly why you should purchase anti-abduction insurance, especially if you live in Toowoomba. As the show reveals, the Darling Downs region is a significant destination for our space brothers and experiences an unusually high number of disappearances due to the large amount of granite in the area, which the crafts use for navigation.
16 year old ‘alien freak’ school girl Storm (Ashlee Lollback) knows this all too well. The science nerd loner claims to have been taken from her formal party and transported to Roma. Her domineering German immigrant mother Greta (Caroline Kennison) is determined to claim upon her policy; she knows what she is talking about given that her husband was also ‘taken’ three years ago.
So what happened to Storm? And how did she wake up in an empty field 200km from home? Enter skeptical insurance fraud investigator Joel Pinkerton (Hugh Parker) who is juggling his case involvement with frustrations closer to home from his wife Holly (Lucy Goleby) and their newborn baby girl.
Although “Pale Blue Dot” includes a gallery of characters, each wrestling with their own psychological alienations and fear-motivated desire for escape, their realisation (and much of the show’s humour) includes reliance of a number of comfortable stereotypes. Parker gives an understated and engaging performance as Joel, very Colin Firth like in his manner and mannerisms. And Kennison demands audience attention as the fierce and determined Greta, fearful of losing her soon-to-be-adult daughter, both literally and metaphorically. This is a show about relationships, between mother and daughter, husband and wife. However, while there is realism to each coupling’s arguments, the chemistry of affection is sometimes lacking.
“Pale Blue Dot” is a new play by Brisbane actor and playwright Kathryn Marquet, the result of La Boite Theatre’s playwright-in-residence program. More than anything, however, it serves to showcase the work of optikal bloc, whose projections combine with the staging and soundscape to produce a hyper-reality highlight. The minimalist stage is beautifully bathed in the blue hues of Jason Glenwright’s cutting edge lighting design, while the stage itself is dominated by concentric circles of varying depth. Atlhough this design is striking and versatile, the creaking sounds of characters moving about on its levels are initially a little distracting.
“Pale Blue Dot” is a show of both personal dramas and big themes, which is perhaps to its detriment. The jumps back and forth from intergalactic intrigue and conspiracy theories to humans struggling with their insecurities and insignificance confuse its identity and the end result of trying to connect the dots (pun intended) is baffling and unsatisfying.
The play’s title comes from the title of a photograph of planet Earth taken in 1990 by the Voyager 1 space probe, from a record distance of six billion kilometres from earth. It shows the Earth as a fraction of a pixel against the vastness of space, emphasising its insignificance in the vast cosmic arena. It is an apt title for a play that has at its core consideration of Arthur C Clarke’s statement that “Two possibilities exist. Either we are alone in the universe, or we are not. Both are equally terrifying.”
Regardless of your thoughts on Ufology, however, you don’t have to be a rocket man to get the best view in the universe; as “Pale Blue Dot” concludes, all you have to do is look up at the stars that every person who has ever lived has also looked upon.