Edinburgh Festival Fringe Scotsman review (theatre): Pioneer at Zoo Southside (Venue 82). Review by Sally Stott.


Flying a spaceship can’t be much more complicated than piloting Curious Directive’s new show. Using an intricately timed combination of lights, projections, choreographed movement and a jigsaw-like script formed of many stories, its ambition is exhilarating. It’s also an appropriate style for a story that is all about taking risks – whether this is astronauts embarking upon a trip to Mars or Adam and Eve stepping out of the Garden of Eden.

Set in the near future, the chance for humans to live on the Red Planet is almost a reality. A mission has already been sent, albeit one that didn’t succeed, but another has apparently landed. We follow a scientist attempting to create a habitable environment, but getting increasingly worried that her partner has gone missing. Back on earth, in the control centre, someone clearly has something to hide. Meanwhile, in Russia, two self-described dudes embark upon a road trip that is about to lead them into the unknown.

Winners of a Fringe First for their 2011 Fringe show Your Last Breath, the company have developed a trademark style that is both intricate and epic, conjuring up entirely new worlds and making them feel as believable as our own. It’s something that’s ideally suited to a sci-fi play, one that draws on films such as 2001: A Space Odyssey and Alien.

“If you can’t make something without seeing the pieces separately then you shouldn’t be making it at all,” one of the characters says – and it’s a philosophy the company also seem to follow.
While a final elaborate twist might be a step too far into conspiracy-land, the desire to achieve something new, to be boldly going where no-one has gone before, is something that has inspired people through history, and it’s thrilling to see it visualised this well on stage.

Until 25 August. Today 1pm, more info.

Originally published in The Scotsman

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