Fringe shows always cause some conundrums for critics. Often works are in the very early stages of development. It is, of course, unfair to review them as finished products but the critical process can aid a show’s development with constructive comment. It is with that caveat that this is written.
Captain KO and the Planet of Rice by Dancing Brick is in its infancy; the finished show itself isn’t planned to be ready until Summer 2012. As it currently stands, it is three separate tales linked by a theme of memory.
The first part of the show is actually conceived as a duet but given the unavailability of one of the performers, Co-author Thomas Eccleshare was collecting the Verity Bargate award for playwriting, an audience member was co-opted into taking the second part.
This opening scene follows two astronauts as they land on a mystery planet and encounter the local population (the audience). While there is an embryonic idea here that shows potential, this opening is perhaps the weakest and most undeveloped of the three scenes. In its current state, the science fiction base for this section seems at odds with the naturalist remaining scenes.
In contrast, the second scene contains less but is conversely much more satisfying. A masked woman silently prepares to make a cup of tea. Performed in mime against an effective and highly realistic soundscape, it’s beautifully observed. Each movement accurate to the smallest detail. As the woman’s memory fails, however ,the simple action of making tea becomes impossible and the end result is deeply moving.
The final scene returns to space, however, instead of the fictional account in scene one, here we look at the real story of Cosmonaut Sergei Krikalev, who holds the record for the longest time spent in space (311 days, 20 hours, 51 mins).
Much of this time was spent alone on the Mir space station and the impact of this isolation on his mind forms the basis for this finale. Much of the tale here is told through video and again shows potential but needs much more development.
Performer Valentina Ceschi, co writer of the piece with Thomas Eccleshare, delivers some nice physical performance, especially in the mimed second scene.
Overall, though, at this early stage of development it is hard to see how the three sectors will fit together or what the overall intention is. Some interesting thoughts and ideas here but the mix of domesticity and space seem at the moment unlikely partners.