BWW Review: MISSION CREEP, White Bear Theatre
'Mission creep' is defined as a gradual shift in objectives, often resulting in an unplanned long-term commitment. Premiering just ahead of Asexual Awareness Week, writer Bee Scott, who is herself asexual, cleverly morphs comedy and science fiction with undertones of horror in this original and engaging play.
The apocalypse is looming. A space agency is operating a relocation project so that human life can be preserved outside of Earth. Applicants Tess (Emilia Stawicki) and Liam (Charlie Maguire) seem like a perfect couple. Both young and fertile, they appear to tick all the boxes. But Tess is asexual and Liam identifies as bisexual. Selling themselves as a straight couple who can procreate, the play follows their journeys and explores the lengths they are prepared to go to in order to flee the planet.
The black box studio of the White Bear Theatre provides an intimate setting, immediately inviting us into the world of the characters. There is little in the way of scenery or special effects here. Instead, it is the writing and the solid performances of the three cast members that do all the talking.
There's something compelling about witnessing characters telling lies and then being forced to deal with the ramifications as those lies spiral out of control. What works so well here is the fact that a myriad of themes are subtly explored in the midst of an already engaging premise. Examining integrity, personal identity, morals and survival, the play is brimming with ideas and social commentary - especially considering its short run time of just one hour.
Director Paul Anthoney ensures the pace flows well. He makes the most out of the comedy whilst allowing some of the more poignant moments breathing space and an opportunity for the audience to reflect on the material. This is enhanced by Chuma Emembolu's sound and lighting design.
The cast of three work exceedingly well together. There is strong chemistry between Stawicki and Maguire. They quickly establish the bond between their characters, offering intricate and nuanced performances that more than do the material justice.
Intimacy director Enric Ortuno should also be commended for ensuring such authentic and hilarious moments are shared between the two. They don't have a romantic or sexual relationship, but their love for one another is deep and meaningful, and their attempts at posing as a believable couple are joyous to witness. Stawicki's use of facial expression and body language as she tries to express convincing affections for Liam allow for numerous awkward moments and much in the way of laughs.
Carmella Brown is captivating as the demanding, bureaucratic interviewer Mary. Her every movement, use of voice and body language is spot on in creating a corporate character, and she generates many a laugh-out-loud moment whilst clearly relishing the role. Her performance is a delight to watch.
There is a rich array of LGBTQ theatre on offer these days, but this certainly feels like new ground. Good theatre should both entertain and educate, and this succeeds on both counts, opening our eyes and offering a different perspective on the world. Mission Creep is a unique play that promises a bright and exciting future for its writer. Bee Scott is definitely one to watch out for.
Mission Creep was at the White Bear Theatre 15-19 October. For more information on the writer and upcoming projects, click here
Photo credit: Bee Scott