★★★ Nicely done
A Play, A Pie and A Pint at The Traverse: Tue 6 – Sat 10 Oct 2015
Review by Thom Dibdin
It’s never easy to get a handle on Adam Peck’s slightly obscure new offering, 140 Million Miles, at the Traverse all week as part of the A Play A Pie and A Pint season of lunchtime theatre.
Rosie Mason and Darren Seed are near perfect as Dawn and Neil, a Bristolian couple in their early thirties, caught up in the hype and sent off to Mars on a “trip of a lifetime” to colonise the red planet. Yet the objective of that trip is never quite clear.
Mason and Seed make it easy to believe they are childhood sweethearts who have known each other for 20 years and whose down-to-earth, simple attitude to life is at once endearing, overtly naive and rampantly over-simplistic. Life at her mum’s is already like living in a fish tank, so the idea of being constantly on live television on the nine months of their interplanetary flight is hardly a new challenge.
Peck’s script gently teases out the mundanities of their existence as they enter into what appears to be a reality TV version of of space flight. All told through a series of interviews with Vincenzo Pallegrino’s disembodied voice – and of course including the moment they hear they have won the trip.
There’s always a sense of the con here, that not is all as it seems. Director Nik Partridge brings that out with a brilliant sense of pace as it switches between the red and green lights, indicated unrecorded and live broadcast.
It’s an unease which is born out in the telling, as Peck’s script cuts through time to drop the couple back three years and reveal the events which brought them to this point. It’s cleverly done, though, with never any question as to where and when everything is happening, as the twists get darker and darker.
There is plenty here to catch the imagination, as the potential metaphors of the piece begin to mount – notably of a childless couple taking a nine month trip to a place that is far beyond their ability to understand.
But for all that Peck gives you glimpses of a potential deeper understanding through the darkness of his tale, murky half-formed outlines which might, or might not, have relevance – this never quite delivers.
Running time 45 minutes, no interval.
Traverse Theatre, 10 Cambridge Street, EH1 2ED
Tuesday 6 – Saturday 10 October 2015
Daily, 1pm. Evening perf Fri 9, 7pm.
Details and tickets: www.traverse.co.uk/