This brilliantly crafted and thought provoking film by the Original Theatre company marks fifty years since the Apollo 13 mission to the moon, the one that people hardly watched when it set out and arguably today barely remember. Nobody died, the world moved on.
Torbin Betts has gathered two of the crew, Lovell and Haise, played by Philip Franks and Geoff Aymer, to recall the journey to the moon and back – the third member of the crew, Swigert is dead.
An explosion damaged the space craft while it was on its way, as a result they could not land on the moon, and instead flew round the dark side – the farthest man has been from earth – before returning to earth. But what happened while they were on the dark side?
Haise, a young, idealisticn African American, and the gung ho right wing Swigert, a replacement as the original crew member had fallen ill, clash and Lovell finds himself somewhere in the middle trying to hold the peace. The film takes a little getting in to because to start with there is a lot of jargon as the craft is launched and it is not until, the mission has to be aborted and they start to talk as they fly their craft round the moon so that it can return to earth, that the message of Bett’s piece becomes clear.
For Swigert they are there to claim the moon for the United States, for Haise it is a journey for mankind. The other thing is that America fifty years ago was a world in which black Americans faced the problems that black Americans face today which SWigert, who went on to enter congress, simply does not understand. The performances are nuanced and pitch perfect and the techical skill that has been deployed creating the craft’s journey is hugely impressive – quite a lot of archive footage helps. Those 25 minutes where no man has been before – or been since – really do hold the attention. The message for today is we are all in this life together, we are all vulnerable, we have to tke care of each other. Haise and Lovell, the interview over, sum it up as one hell of a ride. Bett’s scenario ensures that this film about a mission impossible is just that.
Lovell: Christopher Harper.
Haise: Michael Salami.
Swigert: Tom Chambers.
2020 Lovell: Philip Franks.
2020 Haise: Geoff Aymer.
Researcher: Poppy Roe.
CAPCON: Jenna Augen.
Co-Directors: Alistair Whatley & Charlotte Peters.
Film Direction Editor: Tristan Shepherd.
Production Designer: David Woodhead.
Sound Designer: Dominik Bilkey.
Composer: Sophie Cotton.
Costume Supervisor: Siobhan Boyd.
Movement Director: Simon Pittman.
Photograph: Michael Wharley.