MARY, CHRIS, MARS at Edinburgh Festival Fringe
“Every part of this ingenious miniaturized trip to Mars is shot through with strangeness”
Mary, Chris, Mars presented by the Trunk Theatre Project as part of the Korean Showcase at Edinburgh this year, is an enchanting children’s show. It consists of four performers, three actors and one musician, and a blend of miniature set design and puppetry that will intrigue adults and kids alike. The show is performed in alternating Korean and English, but the quality of the performance skills and the visual elements is uncommonly high. No one will have trouble understanding the story, or the charming pun that gives this show its title.
As Mary, Chris, Mars begins, live music performed by Hahjungki Baek and Jinho Park set the mood. There is an overhead projector on stage, a screen and a mysterious suitcase which opens to show lights representing the planets of our solar system, and the stars. There is a red light, which represents Mars. Mary, played by Yeeun Cho (who also writes and directs) is on a rocket, orbiting the Earth. All this information is presented on screen, via the overhead projector. Mary’s dilemma is that she is bored, and has no friends to share the beauty of what she is seeing from her space ship. It’s also Christmas. (Cue Christmas music.) When a mysterious stranger arrives (Chris, played by Wonjun Ryu), and signals from his space ship that he has run out of fuel, Mary goes to the rescue. After many adventures, the two new friends arrive on Mars (played by Hyeon Park), refuel, and celebrate Christmas together. Mary, Chris, Mars, everyone!
Mary, Chris, Mars is a perfect child sized view of the universe. It reveals itself in the suitcase; the transparent umbrella that opens to display a mobile of planets circling around, and so many other whimsical, yet brilliantly designed features that illustrate this simple tale. Straightforward it might seem at first glance, but the whole show has a quirky sophistication that will appeal to the most experienced theatre goer. Each moment is a revelation — from the gloves that turn into hand puppets bouncing through Martian gravity, to the actor’s body that becomes a spaceship. The actors create their universe the way children do — by picking up everyday things around them — and transforming them into the engines of their imaginations.
It’s a bit of extra work to keep track of the constant switching between English and Korean, but it’s very appropriate. Every part of this ingenious miniaturized trip to Mars is shot through with strangeness. Seeing Mary, Chris, Mars through the lens of two very different languages gives the story a deeper significance that one alone could not provide. Mary, Chris, Mars is the most surreal space trip you will ever take. Like all memorable trips, it leaves you with images you won’t forget. Mary, Chris, Mars is also quality theatre. Here’s hoping we get to see more work from the Trunk Theatre Project in the future.
Reviewed 9th August 2022
by Dominica Plummer
Photography by Sein Park
For dates and venues for all Fringe shows, click on the image below