It was a delightful trip to the moon, for all those who were at the Chinmaya Heritage Centre on Thursday! Thanks to the British Council and Evam, the people of Chennai got the opportunity of experiencing the travel to the moon, taken by two highly talented British actors, Oliver Millingham and Robin Hemmings. The play, “One Small Step” was originally a documentary written by David Hastings, who had a great passion for space and flight. It marked the 40th Anniversary of “Moon Landing”.
It is a spell-bound, humorous, emotional and action-packed play directed by Toby Hulse. It talks about the rivalry between Russia and USA in 1957, which was to send the first man to the moon. The play moves like a history lesson with added flavours of comedy and superb characterization. Right from the first dog that was put on the space shuttle to the remarkable landing on the moon; everything was so real, so true in front of our eyes.
Everyone watching the show was just mesmerized, because a documentary made into a play, the kind of properties used, the standard of acting and the visual effects shown was superb! Imagine, a beach ball used in place of Sputnik, the shadow of a paper-plate used as moon, satellites and space shuttles made of cardboard boxes, file-cabinet used as the steps using which Neil Armstrong descends to reach the moon’s surface! Is it not just amazing?!
Another salient feature of the play was the sound effects that the two gifted actors made to bring the scene real in front of our eyes! What a talent! Robin and Oliver took us into TV stations, space shuttles, labs and all the way to the moon. We could see at least a minimum of twenty characters enacted by just two of them, like the scientists, political icons, astronauts from Russia and U.S, all explained in detail, which makes it clear the amount of initiative, background research and practice done to make this show a huge success.
The crew has been touring around the world of almost 20 countries staging the play and we Indians are fortunate to have them here, doing their 120th and last show in our land!! The best part of the play was the climax as the two staged Neil Armstrong's moon landing. It was very emotional and touching.
On asking what was the biggest challenge faced by them in making this play, actor Oliver Hollis said, “Taking up such a serious story and working on it to present it in an entertaining way was the most challenging task”. “We had great experience working with the local theatre groups and friendship is one thing what we will take away from Chennai” he added. To Robin Hemmings, “Showing special effects was the greatest challenge we faced. To me, imagination is the best special effect and therefore we did our maximum to use our imagination and creativity to portray many things in the play” he said. But yeah definitely, switching over between different roles in a matter of seconds is a challenging task for both of them! Robin said, their prime thought was “Never tell a story, show it!!” and yeah! They really did show the history of “Moon Landing” in an impressive way!