By Sophia Simmons. Shannon Rush and Sophia Simmons in association with State Theatre Company of South Australia. Bakehouse Theatre. October 24th – November 9th, 2019

We now live in a voyeuristic age where privacy is a thing of the past. Limit by Sophia Simmons is a contemporary piece that capitalises on this obsession, with surprising results.

The narrative is aboutThe Mars Project, brainchild of billionaire Carl Jefferson (voiced by Terence Crawford). Marc and Sarah (played by James Smith and Rachel Burke) have been chosen through public voting to take a one-way ticket to Mars.

Marc and Sarah are likeable, ordinary young adults who feel they have more to offer and learn by colonising another planet. Playing their audition tapes on the set wall is a nice touch by director Shannon Rush. We get a glimpse into their personalities before this adventure and it highlights a childish quality that disappears as the days go by.

Kathryn Sproul has done a fine job producing the inside of the space vessel. Lighting by Mark Oakley blends perfectly with the setting. As the audience enters, we are confronted with a rather clinical, muted set. There are bunk beds and cupboards and drawers filled with supplies. On a desk sits Marc and Sarah’s only communication with the outside world, a futuristic monitor that allows them to receive information from Earth. What is most noticeable is the digital clock that sits upstage, letting everyone know the duration of the journey.

Mars is an 8-month trip. As Marc and Sarah embark on their journey, they are saying goodbye to their family, friends, pets and to life as they once knew it. Although there is excitement in the air, the reality of their bold choice soon delivers compelling viewing.

It is hard to see how this piece would have worked if not for the chemistry of the actors. Smith and Burke initially play Marc and Sarah bubbling with enthusiasm, but as the days and months progress, we witness emotions that would have been impossible to predict.

Isolation on a grand scale takes its toll psychologically. Tempers flare and when Marc starts to experience auditory hallucinations the dynamic between the pair changes.

One is invested in these characters from the onset. Living vicariously through them makes the ending more shocking.

Have we lost what it is to be human? Have we devoured Earth to the point that it is irreparable? Is colonising other planets our only solution to the continuation of mankind?

This is a compelling piece of theatre that rockets along and leaves you speechless.

Kerry Cooper

Photographer: Chris Herzfeld

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