How would you spend your last twenty minutes trapped in a small spaceship alone on Mars? Would you go mad? Would you tell jokes to the aliens in your mind? Would you talk to your daughter who (at closest) is 35 million miles away knowing she can’t hear you? Unfortunately for James Allerdyce, this isn’t a question. It’s reality.
MARS: Population One chronicles Allerdyce’s last moments of insanity alone on Mars. Allerdyce plays a space pioneer who is sent on a mission to become the first human being to land on Mars. However, everything goes wrong when a storm attacks the small ship and whisks it away from the proper landing site. When the system goes down, he quickly realizes that he only has twenty minutes of air left, clearly not enough for his crew to find and save him.
The remaining twenty minutes of the play shows how insane you can possibly get, stuck alone on Mars, knowing you only have twenty minutes to live. Mars has many laughs, sound effects, and moments of pure amazement. This is a one man show, and the whole set is mimed. However, it is mimed beautifully, and sound effects timed to the second. You can almost see the spaceship, as he fiddles around with the controls and panels.
You might ask how entertaining it can possibly be, watching a man alone on stage touching make-believe controls, in an office chair. You may be surprised to know that it’s actually very entertaining, and the way Allerdyce stages his play will leave you speechless. The ending quite a twist.
After the play, I got the chance to sit in on a discussion with Allerdyce. He discussed how his play was actually an assignment, for the New World School of the Arts. He was taking acting, directing, and play writing. In order to incorporate all these elements of study into his final project, he decided to create a one man show, and the idea of Mars: Population One became a reality.
In order to create a “scientifically-legitimate” play, Allerdyce underwent extensive research, including watching over 600 science fiction movies from Netflix. The movie that inspired him the most was 2001:A Space Odyssey.
It was also interesting to find out that he brought some of his jokes he uses from a homeless man lying on a bench in the park.
Even if you don’t particularly care for one-man plays, you should still check this one out. It’s mind-boggling to see what one man can do with an office chair, self-created sound effects, and red lighting. Believe it or not, I have no complaints, as the performance was flawless. Allerdyce brings his show back and fourth from Florida to New York, so you should look him up to find out where his play is next!