A multi-strand performance and digital technology project that never finds its way

theatre review | Read in About 2 minutes
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Published 17 Aug 2017

The promise of this Canadian collaboration between scientists, social historians and technologists is never realised. The trouble is a disappointing lack of theatrical awareness or stage charisma during the sit-down-and-watch part of the Transmission project, as well as difficulty accessing its other components. An app we're encouraged to download is only available to iPad or iPhone users. An installation in an office is impossible to find. 

As a live audience, we're repositioned as recruits about to leave on a 90-year interstellar mission to come face-to-face with an alien species who began contacting the earth in 2020. While crew leader Leila and her project team prepare us to leave everything we have known and loved, the deeper implications slowly hit home – we are a species that genuinely does need this preparation if we hope to extend the future of humanity. The production stays away from the threat of eventual extinction and optimistically focuses instead on the potential for correcting first contact disasters by doing things right this time. Other contemporary and historical contexts of migration are also included as we are put into the role of emmigrants trying to come to terms with the challenges that will face us.

It sounds complicated, and feels it too. The initial section contains a lot of dry scientific exposition setting the fictional context, although the play does become surprisingly moving.

The podcast is good, and the concept of the whole project is fascinating and far reaching, but it is so hard to access the different elements that the desired communication fails.