Wednesday, 16 October 2019

REVIEW: Solaris at the Lyric Hammersmith

Solaris, adapted from Stanislaw Lem’s novel, to the stage by David Greig has previously been made into a film in 1972 then again in 2002. Kris (Polly Frame) arrives from earth to investigate abnormal activity on the space station orbiting Solaris. With the aim to bring Snow (Fode Simbo), Sartorious (Jade Ogugua) and Gibarian (Hugo Weaving) home in 10 days, she arrives to find one of the scientists is dead and other strange visitors have appeared on board, including an ex-lover of Kris’, Ray (Keegan Joyce). Solaris explores a combination of scientific theory about the consciousness of the planet, as well as touching on escapism and morphed reality. The ocean-covered Solaris brings their dreams to life in a way which is unclear if it is doing this sadistically or through kindness.

It is an expertly scripted psychological thriller full of mystery and certainly makes you question whether human explorations are beneficial for development, or will we end of destroying everything in our existence? The play is cinematic but does work well on stage, at times the acting is unconvincing and too dramatic for the theme- but each performer brings a new perspective to the table. Solaris has the potential to become a dark, heavy show but Joyce’s ‘Ray’- despite horrifying at times- with Matthew Lutton’s direction added a dose of childish humour and fun to the narrative. 

There is an excessive use of the black screen dropping down between scenes which seemed unnecessary, but Tov Belling and Katie Milwright’s effective cinematography of the waves were an easy reminder of the surroundings. Hyemi Shin’ futuristic set design is immaculate and intelligent, you truly feel immersed in the white, clinical space centre. Alongside Paul Jackson’s spectacular lighting design, you are taken on a journey through space and time.

The play ends almost on a cliff-hanger and left me begging for a sequel to find out what happens next. Having never seen a sci-fi play before, I was pleasantly surprised and Solaris certainly offers something different and hugely gripping.

Review by Hannah Storey

Rating: ★★★★

Seat: Stalls M17 | Price of Ticket: £15
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