BWW Review: THE FIRST, VAULT Festival
Rose and Simeon are supposed to be the first people to walk on Mars while, back on Earth, Alisha and Marcus are hired as speech writers. While the latter two bicker about ethics and potential tragedy, the astronauts are coming to terms with success and mortality. Barry McStay's play The First packs a number of great ideas that, at this stage, don't hit as well as they could.
Directed by Emily Jenkins, the show moves between Earth and space smoothly and Mikey Brett's movement direction is especially impressive. The actors trod the room with specific physicalities according to the setting, grounding the action in their stride. Unluckily, the material isn't as engaging as its outer look. McStay places contrasting views and beliefs side by side, but doesn't explore them in their context.
His characters argue about politics and backgrounds, online abuse and the perception of heroism, but their conversations are shallow and unengaging. Empathy is matched with too many clichés and the buds of thought-provoking concepts are suffocated by a lethargic script spoken by uninteresting figures.
Katrina Allen and Daniel Ward deliver ordinary performances as they set their roles apart with distinctive inflections, but ultimately suffer the consequences of a generalised lack of depth. All in all, this production of The First is to be seen as a starting point. The ground is fertile and McStay definitely has the ability to turn his latest feat into the gripping drama it begs to be.