In outer space, Russian cosmonauts Casimir and Oleg have been drifting helplessly for 12 years, forgotten. Desperately, they try to contact Earth with faulty communications equipment. Back on their home planet, French rocket scientist Bernard receives a glimmer of their signal and misinterprets it as alien contact. Husband and wife Keith and Vivienne are having marital difficulties. Keith briefly finds solace in beautiful Russian erotic dancer Nastasja, but his sudden and unexplained suicide has Viv searching for answers.
Sexually charged but highly enigmatic, The Cosmonaut’s Last Message is a complex maze of subplots that frustratingly never quite meet. What the show does well however is its juxtaposition of the dull monotony of every day life with the extraordinary, as scenes flicker back and forth between the tense silence of Keith and Viv’s living room to seedy strip clubs and deep space.
In this minimalist revival of David Grieg’s 1999 play by The Lincoln Company, costume and audiovisual devices are used to great effect to create a mysterious and futuristic atmosphere. Overlapping scene changes disturb the linear flow and the slow motion gives the play a cinematic edge. The whole thing has a lonely, trancelike beauty to it.
Disjointed, the narrative strands pass each other like ships in the night, struggling to make any meaningful connections. The plot doesn’t really seem to be leading to, or indeed reach a final destination, and leaves many questions unanswered, but visually The Cosmonaut is striking. Best enjoyed superficially, without holding out too much hope for a conclusive ending.
The Cosmonaut’s Last Message to the Woman He Once Loved in the Former Soviet Union plays at C Cubed until 25 August as part of the Edinburgh Fringe. For more information and tickets, visit the EdFringe website.