by Stanislaw Lem adapted by Dimitry Devdariani.
Courtyard Theatre Bowling Green Walk 40 Pitfield Street N1 6EU to 8 December 2012.
Runs 2hr 20min One interval.
TICKETS: 0207 7292202.
Review: William Russell 22 November.
Journey into space worth taking.
Some forty years ago, Russian director Andrei Tarkovsky made a celebrated, if rather ponderous, film based on Stanislaw Lem’s science fiction novel about a group of scientists living on a space station on the planet Solaris, where strange things happen. It was remade by Steven Soderbergh in a rather less celebrated version, starring George Clooney as the newcomer who discovers something is up in a place that is inhabited by what seem to be ghosts – or figments of the imagination of the people living in the station.
This stage version, directed by Dimitry Devdariani, is a bold venture and manages surprisingly well to create an atmosphere of bewilderment and terror as Kris Kelvin (Charles Church) meets his no-longer-dead wife Rheya (Tara Godolphin), who appears to be a blank canvas, almost gathering character the more he sees of her.
There is a wonderful mad scientist, some spectacularly good “ghosts”, while the lighting and music add to the atmosphere of a place where nothing is what it seems. The masked “ghosts” in particular are splendidly threatening.
Maybe there is the odd unfortunate line – “This business has us all a little confused” – someone says at one point and some of the scientific jargon is downright potty, but it does not matter. The book is one of the great science fiction novels and Devdariani has treated it with respect, gets decent performances from the cast, while his set and sound designers have made the most of very little. Maybe Tarkovsky did it better, but that was then and this is now.
Kris Kelvin: Charles Church.
Rheya: Tara Godolphin.
Dr Snow: John Exell.
Dr Sartorius: Jacob Trenerry.
Dr Gibarian: Murray Simon.
Gibarian’s Visitor: Louise McConnell.
Director: Dimitry Devdariani.
Designer: Lucy Barth.
Lighting: Viktor Palfi.
Sound: Richard Franklin.
Composer: Maria Kuznetsova.
Choreographer: Britt Forsberg.