After a horrendous nuclear explosion on our beloved world, NASA astronaut James is the last man on Earth, albeit 253 miles above it as he’s living on the International Space Station. With only a computer for company, he’s running out of hope that anyone might have survived on the planet below, and so decides to take one last walk out in to space. But seconds away from death he’s rescued by a mysterious alien race, and a whole new adventure awaits.
An affectionate homage to some of the odder sci-fi flicks from the seventies and eighties, this sees James meet a whole bunch of unusual aliens and robots, who initially offer him what seems like paradise in the form of a virtual reality which will let him live an idealistic version of his life on Earth (which with some sharp satire mainly seems to involve watching television and drinking a beer), but it of course comes with a twist and so soon he’s running (and fighting) for his life alongside the alien Botilda.
Though there’s the odd bit of maniacal laughter it’s mostly performed in an impressively straight way, avoiding the easy route of mocking some of the dodgy acting the genre is known for, which is quite fitting as William Shatner vehicles aside a lot of the more unusual sci-fi films had some superb performances in them. All of the cast are superb from Sam Dugmore as the only human left alive to villain Myungvjin You, and Tuva Moen as the one who alien who wants to help James, , with the rest of the cast (Tuva Moen and Kristoffer Egset) taking on multiple roles with aplomb.
Performed on an all but empty stage bar a desk in the middle, the cast also provide not only the set but special effects and sound effects too, which makes it an incredibly charming affair, while the soundtrack may be simplistic it fits the tone and feel of the piece perfectly. Though the script is strong it’s the choreography which really impresses, and all of the cast collaborate with each other in remarkable ways to create a very believable alien setting, and a very funny one at that.
It gleefully plays with sci-fi tropes (there’s a robot looking for friendship, odd alien languages, and a number of chase sequences for instance) but is inventive and original too, with some weird French speaking monsters, and other sequences which I won’t mention here as it’d spoil the effect. A joyful romp that’s enormous fun, at the end a sequel is suggested and I truly hope that the Cut Mustard Theatre group aren’t just teasing us as I’d truly love to see such a thing.
2100, A Space Novelty is on at the Cockpit, Marylebone until November 15th, but will hopefully be restaged in the future.