Isaac Diamond has been kicking around the Boorloo indie theatre world for a little bit now but, this month, he’s taken his craft to another level – outer space, in fact. He has written and performs in a new work presented by Lazy Yarns at The Blue Room Theatre titled Homeward Bound, a tidy sci-fi two-hander about a man adrift in the cosmos with only his ship’s computer and memories of his mother for company.
There’s a special place in my heart for a Blue Room sci-fi; the theatre has hosted so many ingenious works within this genre over the years – Scott McArdle’s Between Solar Systems (2015), Clare Testoni’s The Double (2019), and Phoebe Sullivan’s Beginning at the End (of Capitalism) (2021) immediately spring to mind. Homeward Bound will take its place alongside these imaginative and ambitious works with its kaleidoscopic vision of a lonely captain cut loose from a dying world.
Diamond’s story overlays themes and symbols that emerge and recede as the scenes play out. He plays Perry, an astronaut who awakes from cryogenic sleep only to discover his ship has drifted off course and there is little chance that he will make it back home. His time is now spent in rehabilitating his wasted muscles on a stationary bike, trying to devise an action plan with the ship’s computer (Kylie Bywaters), and sinking into dreams and memories of his ornithologist mother back on Earth (also Bywaters).
Perry’s “reality” begins to slip away – the lines between his inner and external worlds blur and so do the shifts between scenes. As an audience, we must listen closely and attune ourselves to subtle changes in physicality, gesture, and voice from Bywaters, lighting states (designed by Rhiannon Petersen), and sound (composed by Rachael Dease). Diamond uses facts about the migratory patterns of birds as a kind of mantra for Perry. Pulling up these memories and repeating them to himself is a salve for this character’s existential doom, and ours as well. They keep us afloat on a sense of awe at nature’s impossibilities, saving our minds from internally doom-scrolling as we watch the show.
Homeward Bound could also be something of a Rorschach test for audiences; it’s likely that everyone who sees it will come away with a different idea of what it’s about, what its most pertinent, prescient, pressing message is, and that’s no mean feat for an emerging writer like Diamond. His ideas are bolstered by top-notch collaborators in the production team, and their course is steadied by the deft and gentle hand of director Elise Wilson, which allows Diamond and Bywaters to develop an intimate and connected duet. Both performers use physicality to embody their characters and undergo transformations – Diamond’s character transformation spans the length of the show, while Bywaters subtly transforms from scene to scene as she inhabits two characters.
Nicole Marrington is on board as the crew’s uniform designer, and her all-white (with a touch of red) creations are both functional and striking. I often found my eyes drawn to the finer details of Bywaters’s costume in particular, and was ultimately gratified by its cleverness in concealing two drink cans. Rachael Dease provides the show’s evocative soundtrack with a composition straight from my electric dreams, and Rhiannon Petersen and James McMillan fuse lights and set (respectively) to create a simple but effective capsule for Perry.
I have no qualms about confessing that the final moments of the show left me with my mouth agape and my theatre-loving heart aflutter. Diamond and Bywaters deserved the extended curtain call they received on opening night for this special flight.
Homeward Bound runs until 22 October at The Blue Room Theatre. For tickets and more information, visit the Blue Room website here.