Theatre Review: 'Laika' Reaches Stratospheric Heights
When you hear the oft-forgotten phrase 'radio play', in our era of Netflix and Spotify, what comes to mind? A roomful of attentive listeners crouched around the wireless waiting with bated breath for the next episode of The Lone Ranger to unfold? Enter Second Chance Theatre's Laika: A Staged Radio Play; that same suspenseful image, but a stage decked out with fifties microphones and an impressive live foley desk, for all your footstep, train whistle, shuttle launch sound needs.
At the hands of master craftsman and director Scott McArdle, a transformation occurs: the story of the Soviet space race goes from a strong script, eloquent and thought provoking but still a mere script, into the play embodied by five superb actors and a genius sound guy at the Blue Room Theatre this month. This feat is comparable to the launching of a man into space, just as worthy of applause but far more successful.
The actors became the characters with astounding conviction, despite a lack of physicality to the work, using authentic voice acting that could rival some of the greats of our time. Big ups for the decided lack of Russian accents; we all know how badly that could have gone down.
(Photos courtesy of David Cox)
As the play weaves together internal sound and multimedia displays of archival footage a kid of visual poetry is created; a sign of strong innovation. This play truly is a cross-disciplinary work of art, bringing the humanity of a great 'failure', one made years ago and thousands of kilometres away, into the hearts and homes of a modern audience.
It portrays a vibrant tango between truth and lies, seeking justice above all. It asks the bold question of how far we will go for success. This is a familiar nagging to all those who have encountered roadblocks on the way to achieving their dreams.
Like all great works based on truth it gives voice to those whose stories have been erased by history, dominated by a larger, more deceitful narrative. Captivating acting by all cast members, and a strong grasp on the subtle complexities of character relationships, allowed a hauntingly real story to be told. All fiction surrounding the actual events is dispelled. Boldly told and beautifully staged Laika achieves leagues more than it sets out to, taking its audience to greater depths than they have ever been before. To reclaim the words of old mate Neil Armstrong, it is one small step for theatre, one giant leap for theatre-goers everywhere. Take the leap, go see Laika: A Staged Radio Play.