Review by James Ong
In the deep reaches of space, two scientists have made a potentially monumental discovery, but will they be able to make it count? Will their faith in Science and/or an Almighty allow them to hold the ship together long enough to bring this seed of life back to a dying planet? Alone is a lofty and pondering show that drags the audience through a gamut of swirling and exploding emotions. We follow the pragmatic Doctor Taylor (Kat Glass) and the assertive young pilot Holland (Courtney Bassett) on a return journey from a distant planet. They’ve been collecting data and samples that may prove key in combating the effects of climate change. Set sometime in the foreseeable future, an all too familiar human short-sightedness has guided the Earth down a path of environmental ruin and societal panic, meaning that many eggs have been placed in the basket of these brave scientists and space-farers. Complications soon arise in their path which forces these bearers of hope to patch the rifts in their vessel and their relationship if they are to stand any chance of making it home. Kiwi companies Dusty Room Productions and Glow House Ltd bring this established piece across the Tasman for the first time as part of the 2022 Sydney Fringe Festival. Alone first made waves during Auckland Fringe 2020 and has weathered the storms of lockdown, embarking on multiple tours of the land of the long white cloud. A large portion of the 90 minute runtime is spent exploring the nuances of these very well fleshed out characters, along with their ruminations on society, science and faith amidst an increasingly mysterious universe. These are deeply human questions that are handled with authenticity and candour - and though the debates may seem somewhat directionless from the offset of the show, writer and Luke Thornborough is quietly laying the groundwork for multiple knife twists further down the line. The show also makes very efficient use of quite a barebones space. As is standard for Sydney Fringe, Alone is part of multiple productions that have taken over the Reginald Theatre - and this abundance of creatives leaves only a short time for set up and packdown for each session. Rather impressively, the creative team behind Alone manages to use this 30 minute window to erect a sparse, but deeply characterful space vessel that allows us to sit in palpable claustrophobia and also imagine the vastness of the expanding universe beyond its walls. Something that is somewhat less standard for Sydney Fringe is how well-rounded the production is. Most Fringe acts are typically writing and performance showcases for emerging artists (with functional design elements in support) - however Alone is a rigorously crafted beast, with intricate lighting, set, sound and costume that further elevate the captivating narrative and the powerful performances of our core duo. Glass and Basset bring passion and fire to their friendly yet diametrically opposed characters and they (tastefully) chew the scenery to great effect. It’s clear this outfit is well-experienced, well-oiled, and professional-grade. Alone is definitely not one to miss!