The Guardian –

The Guardian –

‘Houston, I think we have a hit.’ 4****


This is musical theatre on the grandest scale, with two & half hours of through-composed action, a substantial cast and a lunar landing module that makes Miss Saigon's helicopter seem understated. Yet Edwards manages to permeate the human drama beneath the helmets. He perceptively suggests a parallel between astronauts and actors, all of whom are desperate to assume the starring role. Here the focus falls on Buzz Aldrin, the charismatic loose cannon of the space programme, bitterly resentful about playing second fiddle to Neil Armstrong, and whose later life became mired in alcoholism and depression.


Aldrin is a genuinely intriguing 20th-century hero, and it is in the second half, when he swaps the landing capsule for a bath chair, that the action becomes truly absorbing. For Aldrin, flying into space was the easy part: what he couldn't face were all the celebratory banquets afterwards, and Glenn Carter gives a psychologically astute portrayal of a man who went to the moon, but never fully made it back down to earth.


Many musicals are about reaching for the stars - very few examine the human cost of actually getting there, and Edwards' score is rousing and anguished in all the right places. Houston, I think we have a hit!




Daily Telegraph –

‘This is rather wonderful’ 5***** -


In space no one can hear you sing. But you'd still want to, wouldn't you, if you were up there in the heavens, more than a quarter of a million miles away, looking down with awe on the blue planet?


After a countdown to July 1969 first half, Edwards, who also directs, spins the historic moment on its axis to explore its dark side. Initially contrasting the collective, cerebral aspirations of the men at Nasa with the fretful emotions of their women-folk at home, the piece concentrates on the troubled character of Buzz Aldrin. Glenn Carter's Aldrin is stalked first by the figure of a moon goddess, the siren of his childhood's dreams, and then by a psychiatrist as he begins to unravel upon re-entry.


Not only is he doomed to walk forever in Neil Armstrong's shadow, but everything lacks direction after the event. "Is there a 'next' when you've seen what I've seen?" he trills, reason giving way to lunacy.


Edwards clearly owes a debt to Sondheim in the way he unpicks the pain that lies beneath a patina of all-American assurance and the way he assembles hard and fast chatter into song, building to choral moments of soaring release. Yet his decision to turn the repeated phrase "Please let them land" into a majestic prayer suggests he has a thoughtfulness and taste all his own.



The Times

Dark Side of the Moon- 4****

 

Some experiences are so intense that your life more or less stops after them. That may be the most unsettling of the many discoveries that American astronauts have made - and none more so than Buzz Aldrin, who followed Neil  Armstrong on to the Moon in 1969 and, as Stephen Edwards's musical reminds us, landed up deeply depressed in an asylum.

 

But it's as ambitious and spectacularly staged a show as I've seen at any regional rep - and it successfully drew me into the excitement of a Moon mission that begins with President Kennedy's reckless-seeming space promises and ends with Glyn Kerslake's affable Armstrong and Carter's Aldrin descending by pod into a stony, desolate Sea of Tranquility.


Carter's Aldrin, who has the class and charisma to give a potentially scattered evening focus and coherence. Is he the victim of family suicides and a dominating, pushy father? Well, he ends up in his dressing-gown, inarticulately slumped amid the adoring, clamorous mobs. But if he couldn't talk the talk, he did moonwalk the moonwalk - and as he sings, his voice rising to a desperate shriek, those fiercely concentrated moments were "wonderful, wonderful, WONDERFUL".



Phil Brown 

(British Association for the Advancement of Science)


In my opinion the show is everything that a science-based drama ought to be, and more.

 

I remember particularly the launch of Apollo and the landing of the Eagle as moments of great theatre. Then it did what science-drama must always do: it focused on the people involved, so showing us the human scale and impact of science and engineering and in particularly the psychological impact on Buzz Aldrin, forcing the audience to ask questions about the ethical dimensions of this spectacular achievement.


But it did far more than this. By providing us with a tremendous musical experience Edwards communicated the emotional aspects of the story in a direct way, touching the hearts of the audience and engaging us in a way I can only describe as wonderful. The cast was fabulous, the singing flawless, the live music excellent. I'm only sorry I couldn't take the whole of the BA staff to see it.

 

I would not hesitate to recommend this show to anyone who cares about theatre, music, science, engineering or just about human ambition and achievement. In my opinion the show encapsulates the very essence of one of the BA's main aims: to engage and inspire people with science.