Apollo 13: Mission Control

November 22, 2010 at 12:20 am | Posted in Play Review, Show Review | Leave a comment
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The other night I got to help save the three astronauts on Apollo 13 – Jim Lowell, Fred Haise and Sean Bartlett (?). This was Kip Chapman and Brad Knewstubbs’ creation: part play and part dungeons-and-dragons exercise – where the whole audience gets to take part, to bring three astronauts home in their crippled command module. I can proudly say that I was part of the medical team that successfully diagnosed Haise’s unrinary tract infection, and successfully prescribed 1000 milligrams of trimethopro.

One lucky member of the audience got to sub-in for Ken Mattingly – who was grounded because of suspected chicken pox.

The play began outside of the Downstage theatre – turned into the mission control room at the Kennedy Space Centre – in the bar where Sean was the winner of a rigourous selection processs. Then the three astronauts were paraded to the command capsule.

The sets were fantastic, most of the audience sat at a mission control console, and 1-in-3 even got to wear headphones. The consoles looked quite authentic. Most of the audience sat at consoles; the rest sat in the ‘press gallery’. Even the ‘press’ got to take part – their questions were put to a member of mission control by Walter Cronkite!

The script gave everyone at a console something to do, and get an appreciation of what it might have been like. (Very stressful processing three streams of information.)

The Gene Krantz (Jason Whyte), Ken Mattingly (Chapman), and Ashley Hawkins (Ashley Hawkes) characters acted as dungeon masters, as well as providing the fabric of the play. The play used a Walter Cronkite character (Gareth williams) as an MC and to provide continuity.

The final moments were full of suspense. For a bad moment we thought we might have killed the astronauts because we could not find the combination of eight binary switches settings that turned off our red light and switched on our green light.

If you are a space enthusiast, you should go to this.

Because I am analytically inclined, I would have liked more of a briefing on the consoles! I wonder if Chapman and Knewstubb have considered doing the science fiction convention circuit. BTW: 2**8 is 256, which if you could set a new combination every second would require over four minutes to try them all out.

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