Reviewed – 17th March 2019
“a story of the heart, using the infinity of time and space to juxtapose the small, individual worries we have down here on Earth”
The final day of the final week of the vast VAULT Festival has finally come. It has been an amazing, jam-packed couple of months of entertainment. From what has seemed like a manic, whirlwind explosion of art, it was a pleasant and satisfying end to the festival to see Katie Granger’s Ares, a play that’s quietly understated and charming, spreading faith and hope about the future, whilst giving an honest reflection on humanity.
This is a one-woman show following Alice (Andrea Hall), a highly intelligent astrophysicist, working at NASA, who has ferociously worked her way up from her humble beginnings on a dirt-tracked farm in Florida, to becoming the first person to lead a team on a mission to Mars. This sought-after position includes picking crew members, and Alice knows that her husband Dan is the best spaceman out there for the job. She knows how risky this mission will be and chances of him never returning are high, but is she able to put aside her personal fears and unease for the sake of the job?
Split into six parts, this hour-long adventure through the entirety of Alice’s life is touching and empathetic. What is most apparent is Alice’s drive to overcome any barriers that stand in her way, whether it be never knowing her mother, to being an African-American farm girl proving herself at Harvard, to surviving as a woman in a male-centric industry. Her story is certainly admirable to say the least. But it is the humanistic cracks that show, letting love in and the constriction of work that really make this a personable and relatable tale. What could easily have been a science lecture, turns into a story of the heart, using the infinity of time and space to juxtapose the small, individual worries we have down here on Earth.
Andrea Hall gives a truthful and humbling performance that is full of honesty. Her right-leg being in a cast meant she was sat down or briefly stood on crutches for the entirety, but this did not diminish the production. What was most important was the storytelling, and she conveyed Katie Granger’s powerful words of narrative with sincere precision. The images that Granger’s text conjure up, are powerful enough on their own. Both cast and crew managed to prove how creating something that is delicate and unobtrusive can be more engaging and have a mightier pull on the heartstrings than anything relying on flashy spectacle. A chair and a captivating story is all you need.
Reviewed by Phoebe Cole
Part of VAULT Festival 2019