t’s 2022, and a group of young conspiracy theorists have tuned into a mysterious radio broadcast from the Mojave desert which leads them to investigate a fatal crash caused by a space mission led by Star Solutions, a privatised space exploration company.
Theatre with Teeth is approaching their ten year anniversary, and a play of epic scale was an unusual and fitting departure from the theatre society’s pared down productions, which usually allow the original student writing to do the talking. However, for A Planet in the Desert, it was the production team who stole the show. For production teams, no matter how successful the show might be, it can often be a thankless process, so here’s my homage to the A Planet in the Desert production team.
Niamh Percy did a great thing when she secured The Lemmy for A Planet in the Desert. With its versatile space and futuristic feel, I couldn’t think of anywhere which would be more apt for the play. The Lemmy, known more for sticky floors and first year shame than for being a top notch theatre space, was transformed by set designer Josie Lovick, and props master Laura Hunt. Lovick’s creatively designed set allowed for a seamless transition between time and space, the most impressive of which was the signal tower, climbed by Ralph (George Fincher) in the climax of the play. Lovick’s innovative staging was crucial to the navigation of this dense and at times confusing plot, and Hunt’s props paired nicely with the set.
Hannah Clancy’s lighting design was often dramatic and always atmospheric, making use of the Lemmy’s impressive lighting rig. It lit the costume and set beautifully and immediately created each different environment.
creatively designed set allowed for a seamless transition between time and space
Costume was designed by Annie Tricks, and was another fantastic indicator of time and space. The stark contrast between Star Solution’s slick and business-like attire, and the grungy student-wear of the young conspiracy theorists was a wonderful way of representing the facelessness of the corporation against the mobilised group of students. Capes swished and diggers dug, and the visual imagery was wonderful.
There were some impressive movement sequences, choreographed by Lara Lawman. “Everything is Everywhere”, was particularly slick, with my only gripe being that there weren’t more dance numbers, as Lawman is clearly gifted, and the movement portions really elevated Alex Benjamin’s script.
Of course, we cannot forget the cast. Credit should be given to this large cast for their performance as an ensemble. Even when the writing felt particularly tricky, the cast pulled off a strong and flawless performance. Particularly enjoyable performances came from Andrew Sharpe and Emily Giles, both of whom have great comic timing. Eilidh Walker played the guitar beautifully, and her sultry, atmospheric vocals brought a poignant moment to life. A special mention must also go to George Fincher who played Ralph, and gave a very measured and moving performance.
This two hour epic would probably make a great film. Despite being a long play by Theatre with Teeth standards, the cast never let the writing lose momentum. It was an epic way to kick off the Term Three Festival.