Curious Directive specialises in material that investigates the issues and interests of science and progress, and Pioneer is a sci-fi play about humankind's efforts to land on and inhabit Mars. It follows the story of the pioneers of the space industry through history, the present and what happens in the future and interwoven with the personal experiences and sacrifices of astronauts and scientists, and their families, who all have to make difficult choices for the greater good.
As with After the Rainfall, Pioneer is very multi-layered, following several story strands at the same time, which is complicated and ambitious. The play is staged in a very cinematic way with cuts and scene changes where you would expect them on screen more than on stage, and more than once, I thought that this would very easily translate to a TV drama series.
The stage set, multimedia, sound effects and props were ingeniously designed to enable complicated scene changes and stage management with a very versatile set of three huge plywood boxes on castors which were, in turn, a space station, car driving across the desert, underwater simulation module and much more. In fact, castors were used on most solid objects, which enabled the use of more cinematic effects such as slow motion movement and panning across a space.
Director Jack Lowe and the company devised the show and although devised work sometimes results in chaos, this was the reverse. Tightly choreographed and very complex, every cast member knew exactly where each role and scene change should be, in spite of having had a major hiccup with their sound technician's equipment which delayed the start of the show by half an hour. This must have jarred their nerves and confidence on the first night ever of this production but you would never have known (the sound tech had to live edit the sound with emergency replacement equipment), such is the accomplished and professional approach of this company.
Of course, there is room for polish and practice as the run gets underway - the first night of anything is always rather nerve-wracking, but they should be very pleased with their work.
So, highly recommended and there are tickets for tonight (Tuesday 13 May) and Wednesday 14th, with an after show discussion with Jack Lowe and Festival director William Galinsky, Curious Directive are definitely a company to watch out for in the future.
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