There is something ironic in the fact that David Greig’s play opens in a stilted, uncommunicative manner that leaves the actors struggling to find any definition or direction in the creaking dialogue.
This is a play about communication after all, a play that compares the plight of two cosmonauts trapped in space, unable to communicate with the country that sent them there, partly because of a lack of equipment and partly because the country no longer exists, with that of a series of couples on Earth. The couples too are tied to relationships that have changed beyond recognition from how they started or perhaps never existed in the way the two people involved perceived. If only they could talk, this, says Greig, could possibly be resolved.
It gathers pace, however, and how. The audience changes from a passing satellite to one captured in orbit around the action on stage. It is an engrossing piece of theatre, with Tim Supple slowly fading one scene into the next, highlighting the overlapping nature of the people’s lives and problems.
Three performances are outstanding. Anna Madeley is captivating as Nastasja, the Russian pole dancer with theatrical ambitions. She entrances the audience just as she entrances the men around her. Among them is Tom Goodman-Hill as Norwegian civil servant Eric. Greig has created a truly detestable, multi-layered character whose own journey unlocks and defines the characters around him. Goodman-Hill erases all traces of humanity in Eric.
But it is Brid Brennan who carries the full weight of the play. In Vivienne, the cheated and abandoned wife, she conceals all the bottled anxiety, the words never said, the hurt and pain felt by those with so much to say but only deaf ears to say it to. Her sad smiles speak volumes, little more needs to be said.