Music includes: Blind Willie Johnson, Human Don’t Be Angry
Director: Rachael Walton
Writer: Alexander Kelly
Design: Daniel Fletcher (print and visuals), Nathaniel Warnes (animation)
Reviewer: Rich Jevons
Third Angel’s 600 People is somewhere between stand-up comedy and an astrophysics lecture. The piece was sparked off by a conversation with Dr Simon Goodwin from the University of Sheffield and his work with SETI, the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence. This resulted in a correspondence with the eminent astrophysicist for over a decade. The scientific facts are interspersed with Kelly’s delightful and witty comic asides.
We discover the messages from the human race on the space probe Voyager 1, launched in 1977, including:
We step out of our solar system, into the universe, seeking only peace and friendship…
There are explanations of astrophysical theories such as gravitational stellar wobbles, the Mirror Test, The Drake Equation (used to estimate the number of communicating civilizations in the cosmos, aka the probability of finding intelligent life in the universe), and Fermi’s Paradox (why haven’t we found them yet?). The production goes on to explore the history of homo sapiens which, according to Kelly, goes right up to enhanced humans using CRISPR technology (used for editing genomes).
Daniel Fletcher’s visuals and Nathaniel Warnes’ animations give the show more theatricality, improving our understanding of the issues discussed. The visual presentation makes the experience more visually engaging; Kelly has a real skill at making the complexity of his subjects relatively simple without dumbing down.
Genuinely cosmic in its scope, Third Angel deal in scales of time and space this reviewer finds simply unfathomable. So, for an hour at least, we start to comprehend how insignificant we are in the grand scheme of things, and how even our own solar system is a mere speck in spatial terms. The ultimate question of Kelly’s thrust is simply, given the expectation of life outside our galaxy, then, ‘Where is everybody?’ Some people may think they are already amongst us, others that they are simply ignoring us, or is it just that we have not made contact yet? So it is up to Voyager 1 and other such exploratory crafts to find out. In the meantime, Kelly simply boggles our mind!
Reviewed on 25 October 2018 | Image: Richard Kenworthy