Apollo 13: Mission Control
Oct 18 – Nov 1
Reviewed by Jackson Coe
The promise when entering Apollo 13: Mission Control is of an interactive and immersive theatre experience where the audience directly take part in the action, and for most of the audience this promise is delivered upon.
In this creative and enterprising STAB show, the audience take on roles as operators in the control centre for the Apollo 13 space mission. The interior of Bats has been ripped up and restored with cool space-mission consoles equipped with flashing buttons, headsets, phones and monitors. Unfortunately due to space constraints there are not enough consoles to go around and some people, such as myself, are shunted up the back and miss out on playing with all of the exciting gizmos and gadgets.
The bulk of the show is well crafted. The most stricking apect is a generous and sophisticated serving of multimedia, including a live feed of the astronaughts as well as images of the real shuttle in action. James Milne’s evocative compositions assist in setting a respledent tone for the show and are exceptional pieces of music even on their own.
As an interactive theatre piece the show relies on actors who are capable and confident in working with an unfamiliar crowd every night. Jason Whyte holds down this talented group as the control room boss Gene Kranz, a man under immense pressure who must issue orders to everybody in the room as the mission turns to a disaster around him. Dramatic tension is explored through the presence of Michael Whallen, played by Michael Whalley, who questions Kranz on a few of his decisions. All of the actors are very good at what they do in the show.
While the work itself may be good enough, when I entered the auditorium for the first time I was immensely dispirited to see that I had been forced up the very back, missing out on all the cool equipment (chairs, headsets, buttons) which everybody else recieved. As I watched the people up the front enjoying themselves I became steadily more annoyed that I had been tossed the arse-end of the experience. My heart did flutter with excitement a little bit when we had to check under our seats for folders, and I enjoyed exercising my brain with some on-the-spot algebra, but ultimately this show failed to deliver on the experience it promised me. I was disappointed.