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Adrift | The Space Theatre

Adrift has Eli Bowers stranded and isolated on a space ship, drifting in space with only the computer’s artificial intelligence ‘Ada’ for company. Heavy with guilt, desperate for human company and on the verge of insanity from the isolation, he makes a rash decision that allows ‘Ada’ to possess the body of former flame ‘Amanda Carter’. It explores the line between man and machine, want and need, and love and obsession. Director Lewis Maines was sat amongst the audience and it is clear the level of commitment, investment and love that has gone into this piece, it was lovely to see him sit proudly watching his team and show perform.

The cast are incredible and really transform themselves into their characters. Alfie Ford as ‘Eli’ is brilliant and brings depth and life to his character. His expressive, passionate performance brings the much needed human presence to the piece, his presence and warmth spreads throughout the room, and his emotion-driven or impulse actions often move the story forward. The show really explores the smaller daily human motions that most pieces of theatre choose to ignore, bringing realism to the piece of theatre and Ford is incredible at bringing these to life.

This is countered by the robotic movements and lack of emotion from Konstancja Kendall's and Meeri Aro’s ‘Ada’ (physical and voice over respectively). Kendall delivers a powerhouse performance as the A.I ‘Ada’, discovering what it feels like to “be warm and human”, and later on the betrayed and furious ‘Amanda Carter’. She’s able to evoke sympathy from the audience by the innocent fascination with the stars, her care for Eli, and her moments of silent sadness when he is dismissive of her. Yet we are unable to fully empathise with her, as we’ve seen what she is capable of, her increasing desire to have Eli and the building up to the explosion at the end. Her vacant stare, emotionless voice and slower unsure movements, along with a wire stuck in her back, help to remind us of who, or rather what, she is. It’s her rapid switching between emotions (from a cold anger, to crying and begging) and between characters (Ada and Amanda) that was particularly powerful to watch. 

The set (Jasmine Kint) is simple, with a mattress for Eli and a few props strewn about messily. The stage extends forwards, pacing the audience at all three sides of it, bringing Ada and Eli in our midst, and often performing right in front of the audience. The lighting and sound design are great, and jumps at the chance to make the show more immersive by linking it to Ada’s character. The lights are brighter when she’s engaged, and she often provides the cues to bring music into the show. The music is used to soothe Eli, and create the more wholesome moments in the show. (Sound design by Alfie Ford)

The show is written and paced well, building it up slowly, before absolutely plummeting us into a range of darker themes in back to back scenes. The show doesn’t shy away from exploring topics that can often be shocking or triggering. Whilst the show wants to push the limits, and expose and make the audience confront these uncomfortable truths, it becomes rather intense, making it a tough watch. From slitting her hand (and a large amount of blood covering both actors and the stage), to a couple of longer sexual scenes to an intense physical confrontation which ends in a painful moment of abuse. That being said, the show uses these scenes to push the story along, and isn’t afraid to explore these scenes. 

However there is a scene early on in the show that comes across as a jump scare, with a terrifying scream and sudden flashing red and white lights. Nearly everyone in the room jumped, or clutched at the person next to them and left us all rather tense, jumpy and uncomfortable for the rest of the show. Whilst it was effective to emphasis the twist in the story, it could have been toned down as it currently felt designed more to shock the audience. There is a later moment with flashing lights and loud noises that isn’t as intense, and that level of thrill would have been better. Show triggers are mentioned on the online programme, but perhaps a physical notice or two would have been better, as it left me feeling unnecessarily tensed. 

That aside, the piece was performed well, and is very clear and sure of itself. The acting is impeccable, and with the struggle between woman and AI, and emotional thread that extends beyond the events of the show, this show secure its spot in the Sci-Fi genre. 

{PR Invite} Written by Oviya | Photography by Charles Flint

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