Love, the universe and good music are the weighty themes for this lively devised show from Camisado Club. Centring on the creation of the "Golden Record" to accompany the Voyager space probe, the production follows unconventional scientist Carl Sagan, as he, his famous polo-neck and a group of friends embark on the ultimate project: to sum up humanity on one 12" record.
It's the 1970's and Carl and his wife Linda have been tasked with creating a unique message to be blasted into space. Enter writer Anne and partner Tim, who do their best to convey what it is to be a (NASA approved) human. The stakes are high – the Sagans' previous space-message effort, a diagram of a naked couple, was branded as smut by a conservative public. Each of the characters obsessively works to compile the ultimate collection, travelling the world along the way; will they be able to create something truly representative, and how will their relationships with each other change?
Space enthusiasts will appreciate the way the play effortlessly weaves discussions about binary star systems into the plot – and shares some stunning statistics about the cosmos too, all as Carl and Anne's relationship intensifies. Although not lavish, it's imaginatively staged, with simple effects recreating space in a visually appealing way. Part of the plot is told from the perspective of the spacecraft, which makes for an unexpectedly touching fifth character.
Unsurprisingly, it's not heavy on jokes, and there's a tendency for everything to be a little too awe-inspiring. But the snappy pace and quirky subject matter keeps this from being too big an issue, and there's also an appropriately stellar soundtrack – ranging from Blind Willie Johnson to the Beatles and 16th century English folk music.
This is a well-thought-out production, which touches on ambitious topics and largely succeeds in making them compelling (without relying on an audience consisting entirely of Brian Cox fans). If you appreciate the quest for knowledge and the drive to keep exploring, ideally accompanied by a stonking soundtrack, you'll enjoy You, Me and Everything Else.