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The Tragedy of Phoenix 12 – Living Record Festival

Reviewer: Richard Maguire

Writer: Lava Lounge

It might be wise to switch off this leisurely space drama before the end. Up until its closing minutes Lava Lounge has created an intriguing tale of hope against the odds, all set to a desolate soundtrack that conjures up stellar skies perfectly. It’s a shame that it comes to nothing in the end.

Mark and John have been in space for five years in Space Shuttle Phoenix 12. Their mission was to go further into space than any man has ever been and examine the black holes that lurk light-years away on the edge of our solar system. When Phoenix 12 left earth, it contained four men, but now, with all communication to earth lost, John and Mark appear to be the only survivors.

John believes that the two men are doomed, while Mark is more hopeful that contact will be restored and that they will be able to complete their mission. John thinks that love and blind faith can return him to earth where his wife and two daughters are waiting. Trusting in the teachings of J E Hubson, John prepares to leave the space ship and head towards the black hole, which he hopes will take him back to earth.

It is not clear if any of this is meant to be the black comedy that Lava Lounge promise on their page on the Living Festival website. The premise may be impossible but plenty of sci-fi shows ask us to believe in a lot more impossibles that the transcendent power of love. And Lava Lounge’s two actors – there are no programme notes – appear to be playing it straight in their convincing American accents.

The comedy is more obvious in the last few minutes and it may come as a groan rather than as a chuckle. With the rug pulled from underneath you, the previous 40 minutes may seem as wasted time. But there is still plenty to enjoy in The Tragedy of Phoenix 12, such as the storytelling that is pleasingly unhurried and clear, and, of course, the sound design featuring a glacial piano. Nevertheless, it may be best to leave before the punch line.

Runs until here 22 February 2021 (oddly, it appears under the play called Hurt)

The Living Record Festival runs here from 17 January to 22 February 2021

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The Reviews Hub London is under the acting editorship of Richard Maguire. The Reviews Hub was set up in 2007. Our mission is to provide the most in-depth, nationwide arts coverage online.

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