Words by: Emily Schofield-Cox
Director and writer Will O’Mahony’s The Mars Project, playing at the Blue Room Theatre, is as sad as it is confusing as it is funny; it’s a whirlwind of emotions from beginning to end that entices audience members not to dare take their eyes away from the stage for even a second at the risk of missing tiny, crucial plot points.
Needless to say, it made eating chips throughout the 65 minute production more than difficult.
The Mars Project follows a myriad of different characters, all expertly portrayed by just five actors, as it weaves an intricate and heart-wrenching web between the desire to strive for greatness, and the human ties that keep us grounded.
The production follows Wren and Sam, twin siblings who are made to be synonymous with the story of Mars and Earth – one has flourished while one hasn’t. The orbits of the planets, and the twins themselves, varies in literal and metaphorical distance throughout life in both worrying and endearing ways, but as they get closer and closer, ever spinning, there is an undeniable friction.
“Glowing. Stunning. Dominant. Forceful. Magnetic.” Wren is consistently told to be these things, and as such wants to be one of the (arguably) lucky four to get her one way ticket to Mars in a decade’s time. But when you cut people out of your life to better yourself, as we are often told to do, where do you draw the line?
The Mars Project explores this difficult quandary in a truly beautiful, and often funny, way. Although some audience members found the sheer quantity of characters confusing, they expertly combined in such a way as to connect as one storyline, but not until the very end of the show. Originally the play was written for and performed by third year WAAPA students, with a cast of 17, which would have been an altogether different experience.
The cast dealt with a very sensitive topic with grace and offered a fair and all-encompassing representation of autism, which is an extremely difficult task in itself with such a wide spectrum to represent.
Expert tip: if you find yourself crying at the hint of anything even mildly adorable, sad or difficult, wear waterproof mascara or bring sunglasses to wear afterwards. I left looking like a raccoon.
The Mars Project is going to be playing until early May and is well worth a look in. If you have 65 minutes to spare, hit up the Blue Room Theatre for a play with a message that will resonate within you for a long time after you leave the small, black room.