Kate Webster’s Helen and the Space Rocket: a play about life, the universe..you get the picture.

Review by Carmel Shortall

To boldly go...

“No wonder I do a job where I don’t have to speak to people” says Helen, the shambolic librarian who has been coerced into doing a presentation on something personal. Eschewing siamese cats unlike colleague Sarah, Helen opts for the Voyager Space Probe (not rocket, as she points out).

Why Voyager? Well they share a birthday. Helen was launched, or born, on the same day as Voyager – 5th September 1977.  

With an infectiously enthusiastic geekiness and an imaginative way with ordinary objects as props – pencils and blobs of blu-tack to represent basic and complex molecules – Helen, played by Lucy Allenby, takes us on an exploration of all that Voyager has taught us and how the world has changed since its launch 34 years ago.

Stops on her journey through the Solar System – and on the way to Interstellar Space – include binary code, DNA, gene therapy, Carl Sagan, the Dewey Decimal system and how we all came to be made out of carbon. “Carbon atoms are like library books: you can borrow them for a while but you don’t get to keep them.”

When she digresses too much someone called Trish dims the lights on her.

Helen and the Space Rocket is tremendous fun and a great way to learn things and I definitely did learn things (other than the fact that Kryptonite is NOT on the Periodic Table – I knew that – honest!). Unfortunately, Helen and the Space Rocket has now finished its short run at The Etcetera Theatre as part of the Camden Fringe but it may pop up again somewhere. Keep an eye on writer/director, Kate Webster’s website for further details.

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