Flashlights pierce the misty gloom, and respiratory apparatus echoes the breaths of two men. No-one has been here in many years; a faint distress call is all that was received from the ship that once championed humanity's hope. Welcome aboard the De Nova Super.
This two-person piece of physical theatre follows Col and Special, who have found the eponymous ship and are now attempting to fix her. Groping around, they find the controls and wake Maggi, the ship's computer and super-advanced AI. She provides the main voice of the piece, a clever way to drive the story and fill in the mystery of what happened to the original crew.
Although this storyline has been done many times before, the two characters and their slightly strained relationship did add enough interest to keep me engaged. Without saying a word, little hints of backstory are gently and cleverly painted in: from their everyday interactions to the way they spend their downtime, along with old recordings from family and TV. Striking a good balance between creating rounded characters and investing you in their story, the piece still leaves you intrigued and wondering about many things.
It's a credit to the actors that they capture such a range of emotions. From laugh-out-loud slapstick comedy to touching moments of humanity, it is a rounded and enjoyable piece. The props are well-made and atmospheric, conveying the sci-fi feel, giving enough detail to make the action easy to understand yet staying relatively unobtrusive. There is perhaps more of an emphasis on "bodily" fluids than will suit everyone's taste, some of which did seem rather unnecessary and somewhat crude.
This excellent piece of physical theatre combines belly-laughs with intriguing mystery. Well-played and well-paced, it is an enjoyable hour.