Moonchild Theatre’s new piece, written by is filled with intelligence and wit. Pluto, our protagonist and personification of the planet (if we can call it that), poignantly communicates loneliness as we watch him come to terms with the labels the universe have put on him.
Pluto opens to two NASA scientists who are on the verge of launching a space pod that contains items set to be delivered to the smallest planet in our solar system. Little does Pluto know that the pod contains, along with the usual copy of current music and some topical items of the day, a letter informing Pluto of his immediate demotion of status, from planet to dwarf planet.
Pluto is having a party only nobody has arrived. Charon, aptly named, is Pluto’s only friend and after arriving late joins the fray, bringing with her the news that a pre-booked stripper will be arriving any minute. It is not a successful party. Unpopular and an outcast, Pluto is left to deal with his failed party attempt on top of the news that even Earth’s humans do not take him seriously.
It is at this point that our potentially niche play opens up into a universally associable piece of theatre. We delve into the agonising sensations of loneliness and depression as Pluto, already rejected by the other planets is now seemingly rejected by humans too. Ironically, Pluto points out that humans have only been on Earth for a minute segment of his very existence and yet have the audacity to label him. It is a heart-rending piece, one we can all relate to. Using its Sci-fi surroundings, it accurately and successfully relays the vulnerability of any emotionally isolated person.
Liam Joseph plays Pluto; a brooding intellect. He is perfectly cast in a role I surmise has been written for him. He is subtle, detailed, and likeable. Charlotte Price plays both Charon and our leading NASA professor. Charlotte has a wonderful energy on stage. She is vibrant and playful, with a warm presence that is well suited to affectionately enthusiastic Charon.
Our junior scientist and stripper (two different characters, not to be mistaken for a NASA specialist with a vibrant second job) are played by Thomas Lovell. He brings humour and eccentricity to the piece. It is needed and contrasts perfectly with the sombre disposition of Pluto’s character. His energy balances the play affectively, while reminding us that quiet talkative characters aren’t necessarily the only ones who are lonely.
Clearly written by an Astrophile, there is an element of deciphering language that may be normal to the highly intellectual but to us mere mortals does become a little draining. There are thoughts expressed in beautifully poetic language but the length of thought could rival even those of Shakespeare; and it did affect the pace at times.
Well suited to its space at the Barons Court Theatre and designed to a finish rarely achieved by a fringe company, Pluto is a polished and well put-together show; and I look forward to seeing how this fresh new company progress from here.
Pluto played at the Barons Court Theatre until 23 April.