Mission Control, Principality Stadium, Cardiff

November 25, 2019 by

The year is 2029 and the planet is screwed. But don’t fear, a flamboyant con artist is promising to make everything ok…..for the select few at least. Little change there then.
Mission Control – a collaboration between Hijinx Unity Festival and National Theatre Wales – is set in a near future plagued by the climate crisis, overpopulation and instability. So far, so bad.
A solution to all of these ills appears on the horizon, literally, when an earth-like planet appears overnight. A company called Monolith, fronted by the charismatic Conga Busk, has secured the exclusive rights to colonise the planet and this is where the production begins with the audience as the ‘lucky few’ passengers about to embark on the rocket bound for this new planet.
Before we even have chance to hand over our tickets, the production in essence begins with a mob of angry, placard-waving protestors around Gate 1 of the stadium in an attempt to persuade us not to board the rocket. This is the first inkling that things are not all plain sailing (or should that be ‘flying’) and there will be more to Mission Control than meets the eye. And so it proves over the next two-and-a-half hours in a show that could well be a one-off for its use of the national rugby ground of Wales and access to so many of its normally off-limit areas.
Mission Control is ridiculously ambitious and that is, at times, its downfall. It almost manages to execute the grand vision of its creative team but just falls short. This is through no fault of the concept, writing, direction, costumes, video production or acting as of all these ingredients were highly commendable. It’s just that with the multiple locations spread over the bowels of the Millennium Stadium – including innovative uses of corridors, changing rooms and escalator areas – there is the occasional lull in proceedings over the long-run time which spoils the pace and flow of the production. I have to say that the cup of tea served up during the visit to the resistance encampment made the wait in this area pass pleasantly.
This is a minor criticism however. You can only applaud the daring that is required to pull off something as big as this – and the incredible attention to detail – that goes into transforming such an iconic and recognisable venue into a location that passes for a space shuttle port and laboratory.
This is timely, thought-provoking theatre that will leave you dwelling on what exactly you have seen and the themes that were explored, for many hours afterwards.

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