A critical mission for humanity; a critical exploration of humanity. An off-course mission to save humanity is right on target when it comes to entertainment, poignancy, and thought.
Now, let’s not go crazy here. Mars is not an hour-long delving into the depths of the soul. Instead, it is an entertaining presentation in the theatre of the mind. While the writing and direction are solid, it is the combined performance of leads Valerie Cotic and Mark Nocent that makes this play — pun fully and unabashedly intended — out of this world.
The show offers a story within a story. Nocent, as the father, is regaling Cotic, his daughter, with a story of a critical mission involving the transportation of The Ark — a ship filled with the necessities to ensure the successful colonization of Mars, as Earth is not long for human sustenance. The duo then illustrate the (often embellished) story as a pair of astronauts who not only battle technology, but also spend most of the production verbally sparring.
It’s the subtleties that sets this play apart. Cotic, playing the role of a teen differentiates herself from her “adult” character through minor, but effective changes in behaviour: holding a knee to her chest, or affectations of voice and face. Nocent, while playing two similar characters, also finds ways to define the two characters with added depth.
The story — and its eventual resolution — is secondary to the interplay of the characters. Mars’ strengths are superior casting, incredible chemistry, and polished interplay. Its opening-night production was clearly a successful launch.
This opening weekend review has been posted on behalf of Theatre in London.ca (http://theatreinlondon.ca/).