Sunday, 21 July 2019

REVIEW: One Giant Leap at the Brockley Jack Theatre

“That’s one small step for man…” Neil Armstrong.

If you are familiar with the Arrows and Traps theatre company, you may associate them with vivid, dramatic and sometimes scary theatre, but this time, in “One Giant Leap”, expect laughs and slightly whacky and bonkers content! It never ceases to amaze me how this repertory company keeps coming back with new innovative shows multiple times a year.

This is the (probably!) fictional story of a TV studio in Hollywood in 1969 whose main alien-related show has just been cancelled after only one season. Its director Edward Price is on the edge, having to work with actors who are too demanding for his taste and a co-producer who happens to also be his ex-wife. One day, a CIA agent arrives and offers him a ton of money to create a fake moon landing. Indeed, because of the pressure up on the moon, cameras wouldn’t be able to actually film the landing. But how is Edward going to convince his team to produce this kind of footage with everything falling apart around him?

What I really liked about this production was that while it is a farce and presents highly comical sequences, it also becomes very moving at times, and serious. The reality of one actress needing her TV role to feed herself and her child as well as the moment at the end of the play when the company watch the landing on TV are very real and perfectly combined and orchestrated with the rest of this crazy show.

Anyone who’s also worked around actors will laugh at the chaotic world that happens between cut and action, the outrageous requests of Perry Whitlock (Daniel Ghezzi) when it comes to his performance, and also be reminded of all the effort that goes on behind the scenes. 

The costumes by Delyth Evans are delightful, with space suits, 60s hippie wear and star trek gear. The lighting by Ben Jacobs is complex and creates warmth and realism. We really feel like we are in a film studio! I can’t not mention the detailed set design by Justin Williams. 

The story is brought to life beautifully by the fast paced and original writing by Ross McGregor, as well as his direction of the actors. We embark on a crazy ride of misunderstandings involving egocentric and highly colourful people. 

The ensemble is fantastic, with Christopher Tester as the overwhelmed film director, Lucy Ioannou as the adorable and childish Alchamy Jones (such a switch in performance style by Ioannou who I saw last in “Sophie Scholl”, also by Arrows and Traps) and Charlie Ryall as the cool Carol Cooper trying to keep the ship afloat. 

In the second act, the company takes their request by the CIA to the ultimate level and the show breaks out in dance, song and colours. There is a surprising musical scene that celebrates being yourself, family, and perhaps taking a few drugs. For this, and a few other scenes, the movement direction by Matthew Parker really takes the audience on a journey. 

The run is almost over but I do recommend seeing this show and hope it gets revived somewhere else. I would even say it lends itself well to television!

Review by Sophie Tergeist

Rating: ★★★★

Seat: Free seating | Price of Ticket: £16

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