Gasping for air, limbs stiff and cramped, eyes blinking with the light, the crew of the Evren stumble on to the stage. They've spent nearly 60 years in cryostasis, on a mission to go further, learn more, and become the first humans to enter a black hole. But they have just been woken early... and now their work begins.
The crew of five each have their own specialities and jobs aboard the ship; likewise, each had their own reasons for signing up. Flashbacks show the hard work and training to get on board, but as the ship approaches its final destination, they must each come to terms with the reality of their one-way mission. Will their nerve fail, or can they claim their place in history?
The physical theatre is well done, particularly within the psychology sessions. Bringing conflicting emotions to life and showing the changing crew dynamics, it is well-choreographed and smoothly performed. The use of a video projection as the background, showing the view from the ship's bridge, worked well to give a timeframe for the “present day” scenes and set the mood as the black hole approaches. It could have been even better used, to give a clearer indication of when the flashback scenes occurred and the location of them.
Many of the issues of long-distance space flight are touched upon: the knowledge that during their stasis, their friends and family would all have died or grown old; imagining the course of the Earth’s history while they were gone. However, there were plot inconsistencies that somewhat spoilt the show – it feels as though a little more care in the script would lead to a much better piece. For example, how can an underground organisation in hiding pay enough to set someone’s family up for life? And why, if communications take three years to reach Earth and vice-versa, would the crew worry after only a week with no contact?
We find out a lot about the two male crew members' backstories, and much of the action is to do with their struggle for dominance over each other. But it would nice to hear more about Nevah in particular, and to explore Dot’s experience growing up. Though there are mentions of the women’s pre-flight life, and Dot is very clearly the most technically proficient of the crew, the imbalance in the treatment of the backstory is disappointing.
Overall this is a well-performed piece, touching on ideas of sacrifice, drive, bravery and the quest for knowledge. But the interesting story is let down by plot inconsistencies, and a failure to develop all the characters.