Mars: Population 1

by Sarah Schlesinger

Mars: Population 1 is for the most part a one-person show, not counting an additional actor appearing near the end. James Allerdyce wrote and directed the show, as well as playing Captain Thomas Galloway, the astronaut who is assigned the mission to walk on Mars.

Upon trying to enter Mars's atmosphere, Thomas Galloway hits a storm that forces him to crash-land onto Mars, which disables any source of communication. Miles from the original landing site and unable to fix the ship or call a rescue, Galloway slowly comes to believe that he will not live through his mission.

The show begins comically, with Galloway saying that before his mission, he went into the ladies' bathroom to "boldly go where no man has gone before!" The performance turns serious very quickly. Galloway begins to hallucinate, as he desperately tries to cope with his fear of death and lack of oxygen. Galloway is a very easy character to relate to. He dreams of something more, yet his sheer humanity in the face of death is bittersweet. You do not want to see this character die. You want him to live and his mission to succeed, not just because you grow to like him, but also because of what he represents: our eventual journey to Mars. The sound and lighting systems play a very important part in the play, as Allerdyce's only solid prop is a chair; all other props are pantomimed. Regardless, you get a very firm impression that Galloway really is in a space ship.

However, despite all it has to offer, I do not recommend this play. The ending shifts the entire reality of the play in a rather jolting way. It is disjointed from the plot and breaks the entire mood of the performance. I would say to leave five minutes before the ending, because in this case, the journey is far better than the destination.