Skylab written by Melodie Reynolds-Diarra and a co-production between Black Swan State Theatre Company and Yirra Yaakin Theatre Company, is a bit like the real NASA Skylab; you’re not quite sure where it is going and in the end it just crashes and burns.
Gary Cooper as the eccentric Uncle Harvey wanders the set dressed in alfoil helmets sprouting the conspiracy theories associated with NASA and Skylab. There is no real understanding as to why Uncle Harvey has these fears or how he can listen to, and interpret foreign countries radio broadcasts. Alan Little as Nev and Laila Bando Rind as Jem do an adequate job as a couple who work, live and raise three children on a farm in Western Australia.
The three children played on opening night by Juliette Laylan (Amy), Liani Dalgetty (Sonia) and Benjamin Narkle (Nate), shine with a charm and cheekiness that brings a smile to your face. Narkle’s moves and mischievous smile are a show stealer.
The second act becomes a little self indulgent with a pink pony, Vegas wedding, a fridge full of food, pools full of fruit loops and children able to walk across lakes, make little sense or relationship to the first act. The scenes involving memories from the television show Monkey Magic were like watching a scene written and performed by a group of primary school children for a school assembly.
The set designed by Matthew McVeigh reflects the soul of outback southern Western Australia. The tin shed for crazy Uncle Harvey and giant refrigerator with door that swings open and shut are impressive.
Skylab is a recollection from the life of the play right in 1979, the year Skylab fell to Earth. Unfortunately, the reminiscing and thoughts portrayed in Skylab fail to reach a climactic or satisfying conclusion. The second act crashes, unable to meet a cohesive narrative that reflects the themes or acting capabilities of the cast exhibited in act one.
Studio Underground – State Theatre Centre of WA, William Street, Perth
Performance: Saturday 18 August 2018
Season continues to 2 September 2018
Information and Bookings: www.bsstc.com.au
Image: Gary Gooper and Liani Dalgetty feature in Skylab – photo by Dana Weeks
Review: Craig Dalglish