By Jay Menard
One man, essentially alone in his own world, finds a connection amongst the stars. And in Damon Muma’s My Planet and Me, we’re invited to follow a man who guides us down a path of his own introspection to an ultimate realization of what his true value is in the universe.
Muma’s character, despite having a girlfriend, a job, and friends, feels isolated from the world around him. He increasingly can’t relate to the lives his friends are leading, he feels stuck at work — the tedium of bus rides to and fro blending into an indistinguishable rut, and his home life begins to fray as the play progresses.
Instead, he finds a connection where he least expects it — in the stars through a sentient planet that is communicating with him. He recalls other moments in his life when the planet spoke to him — and while he doesn’t understand what “she” is saying, it moves him both physically and emotionally.
Eventually, Muma reveals his connection to his partner. And the truth of the communication comes out. And en route we’re presented with an engaging look at what it means to connect, how connection can make one feel special or important, and how we cope with the connections — or lack thereof — around us.
Muma is a wildly entertaining storyteller. He also pokes fun at himself and the often overwrought nature of one-person shows. At one point he states, “You came here to watch me wallow,” and reinforces the idea that audiences want to see sorrow, strife, and self-analysis.
While he toes the line of being obnoxiously self-deprecating, he never crosses it. His dialogue plays with the common tropes of one-man plays, acknowledges them, and then progresses. It’s a wink-and-a-nod to our expectations of these types of shows and he knowingly guides his character and the audience through the play’s progress. Muma never portrays himself as better than the traditions, but is aware of them, and embraces them — both for good and bad.
The production runs about 10 minutes too long, with the final scene doing a disservice to what comes before it. It feels a little preachy and heavy handed and takes away from the opportunity to leave the audience questioning what was and wasn’t real. Ending the play at a moment when Muma is undertaking some deep breathing would have been a far more poignant and open-ended way to finish the play, but I’m sure others will disagree.
My Planet and Me starts as a “what if” story about a man talking with a planet. But it’s strength lies in exploring the deeper questions of what is communication and why is it important to us. Exploring one man’s connection to the stars will cause you to evaluate your connections here on Earth.
**** — four stars out of five.
This review originally appeared on theatreinlondon.ca