Last night I went to see the highly entertaining dark comedy, Mission Creep at the White Bear. Blending sci-fi, the apocalypse and queer themes, this show asks how far a person might go to escape the end of the world.
Liam and Tess are good friends and flatmates. They are also fertile. They have signed up to go into space as part of a breeding program, escaping planet earth as it teeters on the brink of total destruction. The hitch, Tess is asexual, while Liam, who is bisexual, is leaving behind his boyfriend to face the end of the world without him. They have no interest in having sex with each other. They now need to convince the bureaucratic Mary that they are a happy heterosexual couple, and the perfect candidates for Britain’s intergalactic relocation project. But how far will they be willing to go to persuade her?
It is refreshing to see a convincing asexual character represented on stage. Emilia Stawicki is fabulous as Tess, particularly in the moments when she is forced to face her distaste for sex head-on. Charlie Maguire is an engaging Liam, distracted by texts from his boyfriend, while humouring Mary who conflates bi-sexuality with promiscuity. Carmella Brown’s Mary has a wonderful desperate quality to her, her determination to sniff out undesirable applicants, at odds with the growing pressure to find the perfect couple.
Swirling around the internal story are updates from the outside world that add to the urgency of the situation, and successfully ground the play in its grim doomsday reality.
Bee Scott’s writing is peppered with humour throughout, as she uses comedy to land both the absurdity of the situation, and the internal conflicts of her three characters. It would have been easy to keep Mary as a one-dimensional character, but as the play progresses we realise there is more to her than first meets the eye. She is not simply an obstacle for Tess and Liam to overcome.
I really enjoyed Mission Creep. The story and world created is rich with detail. Paul Anthoney’s direction ensures the play is well paced, keeping my attention as Tess and Liam face each new challenge and decision. This pacing is never at the expense of the character development, and the talented cast are given plenty of space to land the key emotional drumbeats of the play. The one-hour running time flew-by.
Mission Creep is running at the White Bear at 7pm until 19th October.