MERCURY POISONING: A WOMAN ALONE IN SPACE

Snatched and White Box in association with bAKEHOUSE Theatre Co present the debut play of a most adventurous new writer. Madeleine Stedman’s play Mercury Poisoning in production is packed with story as well as a nimble cast defining the traverse performance space of the KXT on Broadway into the various worlds of the poisoning we witness.

Shawnee Jones as Nicole
Teodora Matovic and Brendan Miles as Molly and Randy

The Mercury project was a training program for American male pilots to become astronauts, in answer to the Soviet Space Program which first sent a man into space in 1961. The Russian cosmonaut program involved both men and women. The playwright Madeleine Stedman has dramatized the story behind the first Russian female cosmonaut as well as an attempt to train a group of women pilots to join NASA. The players of Mercury Poisoning take us keenly into the world of the space race, and how the promise of space travel also became a vehicle for social change in both the Soviet Union and the United States.


Violette Ayad plays the role of the first female cosmonaut with power and confidence, as she steps from working in the mill into a rigorous and demanding endurance program to prepare her for 3 days in space. Shawnee Jones plays most effectively the potential Hollywood star a young performer and sometime cabaret singer on the edge of a big break in the space fiction reminiscent of the Star Trek series. A young woman and if that weren’t outsider enough, she is Black. Teodora Matović, playing the young-gun female pilot who arrives from Oklahoma without invitation to not take no for an answer to train as an astronaut alongside, but still outside, the NASA American space program focused on the Mercury 7 team.

Charlotte Saluzsinsky and Violette Ayad as Zhanna and Valeria


Well done also, Brendan Miles, crossing all narratives with demonstrated capacity to rend each accent for each character. Also of mention, Sarah Jane Starr presented as the provocative “Janey” a well-wrought 50s housewife who can attempt to have it all playing the voice of a changing woman of the era.


I commend the accent and dialogue coaching, Linda Nicholls-Gidley as each of the ensemble managed to seamlessly take us across the globe. Costumes were also a marvel and most effective setting the time and place of each scenario, thanks to Meg Anderson.

Madeleine has developed an exciting and complexly woven narrative and Director Kim Hardwick has expertly rendered the physical space to celebrate the investment. This strong company of twelve make this effective ensemble story-telling. With balletic lifts to inspire flight and sound (Rowan Yeomans & Jay Rea) adroitly creating setting as effective as any physical set might.
Tempered by mist, movement and a parachute billowing above, the simple set effectively creates the ten years of the trials, the drive and the breaks taken, won or hard fought for of each narrative excellently executed by a terrific ensemble company.

The hard fight is still to be won. We are an audience leaning in for more. We must fight.

TEAM
PLAYWRIGHT MADELEINE STEDMAN
DIRECTOR KIM HARDWICK
PRODUCER TAHLEE LEESON
LX DESIGNER JIMI RAWLINGS
SX DESIGNERS ROWAN YEOMANS & JAY REA
PRODUCTION DESIGNER MEG ANDERSON

WITH VIOLETTE AYAD, SHAWNEE JONES, TEODORA MATOVIĆ, SHAW CAMERON, ANNA CLARK, MELISSA JONES, NIKITA KHROMYKH, TINASHE MANGWANA, BRENDAN MILES, JACK RICHARDSON, CHARLOTTE SALUZSINSKY & SARAH JANE STARR

PRODUCTION & POSTER PHOTOGRAPHY CLARE HAWLEY
ACCENT & DIALECT COACH LINDA NICHOLLS-GIDLEY
BUMP IN CREW MAXIME ARMAND, HANNAH YARDLEY, RACHEL STEDMAN & GREG ALEXANDER

KXT on Broadway, 181 Broadway, Ultimo – Until March 30.


www.kingsxtheatre.com

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