REVIEW ‘Laika: A Staged Radio Play’

September 22, 2017
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Images by David Cox Media

By Holly Ferguson

When I think about the Space Race I think about the Cold War and that America beat the Soviets in landing on the moon first. It’s clearly not the most in-depth thought process.

However, last night my views regarding the Space Race changed and that’s thanks to Second Chance Theatre and their show, ‘Laika: A Staged Radio Play.’

Laika provides an insight into the many casualties, errors and hardships that occurred during the early days of the Soviet space program.

In a little over an hour SCT tells a dynamic, gripping and, quite frankly, devastating part of history that should be more well known.

Scott McArdle’s writing is as tight and solid as his directing. An engaging energy is held throughout and at no point did I feel as if something could have been cut. Everything held a purpose and maintained interest.

I really could have entered into a suspension of disbelief, if it wasn’t for the person sitting next to me incessantly checking their phone (mini rant: like, seriously? You’re at the theatre, you know not to check your phone. I keep seeing this more and more when I go to the theatre and I don’t understand why?!).

Gosh, there are really so many great things about this show.

The acting is stellar. I understand that the format of this show being a staged radio play limits movement to a certain extent. However, at no point did this impact on the effectiveness of the performances, especially those of Daniel Buckle and Taryn Ryan.

I think the degree of stillness from the body increased tension and highlighted the impressive face acting and vocal work.

Ok, the live foley. Yes. This was very, very good. The soundscapes, built on stage by Andrew David and occasionally in collaboration with the other actors, were layered and encompassing; making a full and believable sound.

McArdle’s lighting design was also impressive. I didn’t mind the sporadic intense blast of light directly into the audience, as I felt it added a necessary element to the crescendo of the rocket launch (although I was paranoid that the actors would see my double chin as I retracted from the light).

Sara Nives Chirichilli’s set was simple and effective. I liked the worn look and the sense of sanctuary that the space gave. I did think the distressing of the walls was slightly over concentrated, however this only became apparent occasionally as light shone over certain areas.

I liked George Ashforth’s projection for context. Although, at times, I found it hard to fully view an image or text due to the wooden wall panels slightly obscuring what was being projected (especially on the outer wall panels).

Laika is one of the best shows I’ve seen this year. I thoroughly enjoyed not only the performance but learning more about this period of time that I know not too much about.

The story that Laika presents is both heartbreaking and concerning. The casualties that came as a result of the Soviet space program could’ve been easily avoidable if man’s competitive nature and recklessness had not been at play.

If you want to see good theatre and learn some overshadowed history, go see this!

Buy tickets here


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