Breakfast Plays: The Future is…
Traverse Theatre, v15
09:00 (13-25 August, various days)
⭐⭐⭐⭐ (4 stars)
You could say this was less of a play, more a monologue, with a few interjections from the other two cast members as Peyvand Sadeghian’s life unfolded before us and she mused on ‘coming second’…
Author Eve Nicol’s play is set somewhere in the future. Earth is sending missions into space, some going way beyond our solar system: there’s even a group for the ‘space depressed’ to share their feelings and support each other, because no-one who’s not been there shows the slightest interest in things outwith their own experience. Baitu is very insistent that “seconds don’t get noticed”: people are only interested in those who’ve done something for the first time – first on the moon, first to other planets, to leave our solar system….
Baitu is on her second mission to Moon – the first, she says, was for exploration, the second is for exploitation. It’s a solo mission, her sole function to be there in case of emergencies. Everything else is done by ‘bots’ which roam the surface, looking like cardboard boxes, searching for anything of value that will make a profit for – guess who? Amazon… Once a day she makes contact with someone back in control central on earth, an artificial ‘how are you?’ ‘everything’s fine’ ‘great!’ meaninglessly mind-numbing exchange of words before she retreats back to the hard drive of sci-fi films and cans of pre-mixed cocktails she brought with her.
But how come there’s a white rabbit outside the airlock asking to come in? Why does she let it in? Why does it keep asking her “why are you here?” Is she simply trying to escape from her family who seem to show no interest in her [she’s the second daughter, after all], from the unwanted men who persist in orbiting her, from the emptiness of her life back home, or is she trying to escape from life itself?
It’s an absorbing narrative, excellently delivered by Peyvand with support from Renee Williams and Susan Vidler which made me wish they had a larger part to play in the narrative: and the depiction of what life on the moon might be like on a long mission is fascinating. Ultimately it’s a play which questions the value we place on constant novelty and the lack of worth – and self-worth – placed on people who continue something rather than breaking new ground. Baitu seemed totally self-absorbed, except when she came alive talking about her fellow-astronaut on their first moon venture – but even there, was she really aware of Shiloh as a person? Or did she simply see her as an actor in another of her sci-fi movies? Without revealing the ending, I’m glad it went the way it did – but wonder whether it would have resulted in any major change in Baitu’s basic way of viewing the world, even though she had spent so long watching it from the surface of the moon…