Kathryn Marquet’s great skill has been to create a play that investigates alienation not up in the skies but within our own lives.
Image by Dylan Evans.
Developed as part of La Boite’s Playwrights in Residence program last year, Pale Blue Dot by Kathryn Marquet is a piece of new Australian writing for the stage that is both poignant and laugh-out-loud funny. Marquet has achieved a most difficult task with this play, creating a two hour piece which feels like only half that time and which has the audience torn between laughing and crying.
Pale Blue Dot asks us to consider the question of whether we are alone in the universe – a question that insurance investigator Joel must somehow answer as he considers a mother’s case over the alien abduction of her daughter. Initially steadfast in his knowledge that alien abduction is not possible, the emphatic certainty of Greta and the quiet resolve of her daughter Storm, begins to give Joel cause to question what he knows and what he believes to be possible. While during the day Joel is trying to answer the deepest questions about our universe, at night he struggles to cope as his baby daughter Chloe cries and his wife Holly feels as though she is losing herself. Although on the surface the play is about Storm’s alleged abduction, Marquet’s great skill here has been to create a play that investigates alienation not up in the skies, but within our own lives. As each character battles questions around their own existence, relationships are won and lost, emotions run high and answers must be found.
This performance is excellent, managing to touch on moments of human existence that are powerful and moving, but with a sense of humour that is clever and best of all, really funny. This is partly down to Marquet’s gift of writing, but the direction by Michael Futcher and the talented cast pull it off splendidly – particularly the domestic scenes between Joel and Holly (Hugh Parker and Lucy Goleby), which every parent will identify with, and the marvellous Caroline Kennison as Greta and local UFO fanatic Deidre. Ashlee Lollback is also excellent as Storm, the abducted teenager, who is trying to come to terms with her social isolation and is entirely believable as she begins to find solace in her developing friendship with Joel.
Josh McIntosh’s set design is also perfectly created for this production. A series of uneven circles create the round stage and create the appearance of looking down into a series of crop circles or up into the depths of space. This is an effect that is compounded by the stunning video projections from optikal bloc, literally bringing the stars to our feet.
Pale Blue Dot is an excellent showcase of Australian talent, offering a profoundly thought provoking evening that will have you rolling in your seat with laughter and will also bring a little stardust to your life. The season continues at La Boite’s Roundhouse Theatre until 9th August and this is definitely a performance to put in your diary.
Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
Pale Blue Dot
Director: Michael Futcher
Playwright: Kathryn Marquet
Production Designer: Josh Mcintosh
Projection Design: optikal bloc
Lighting Designer: Jason Glenwright
Composer and Sound Designer: Gordon Hamilton
Assistant Sound Designer: Samuel Boyd
Scenic Artist: Shaun Caulfield
Costumier: Julie Leutton
Dramaturg: Jane Bodie
Stage Manager: Jessica Ross
Assistant Stage Manager: Heather O’Keeffe
Lighting Secondment: Brandon Duncan
Cast: Ashlee Lollback, Hugh Parker, Caroline Kennison, Lucy Goleby
La Boite at the Roundhouse Theatre, Kelvin Grove Village
19 July – 9 August