[THEATRE REVIEW] TURN TURN TURN @ Theatre Works Explosives Factory Review (2023)

It is the future and Earth Seven is becoming uninhabitable. Too many people, too few resources.

It is time to get out, but the opportunity is not there for everyone.

In fact, even amongst “the chosen”, everything has to be just right … and it isn’t for Hon, otherwise known as Panther (Melanie Audrey) and Tee (Sodi Murphy-Shrives).

The characters in the piece have no gender identity, so I will refer to them as “they”.

In training, Hon broke their ankle and being in a loving relationship with Tee, who – it turns out – has their own issues, is forbidden.

Hon urges Tee to leave them behind because Hon’s “break” will slow Tee down, but Tee refuses.

The pair has made plans to travel to the new world (Earth Eight), but as they are about to escape the authorities catch them out.

Just in the nick of time, they are scooped up by another couple, navigator Naz, whose pet name is Duck (Sarah Hartnell) and engineer Elk (Eben Rogter).

This couple is not among the elite and they bend the rules in more ways than one.

Firstly, they too are in a hidden relationship.

Secondly, they use illegal “temporal thrusters” in their ageing spaceship to fast track their journey to Earth Eight.

Getting there earlier than the anticipated 21 days will enable them to choose their favoured location to call home.

But space rangers are constantly on the lookout for law breakers.

Further, use of the thrusters has unintended consequences, specifically for Hon who begins seeing visions.

Suffice to say there is tension and suspicion on board the craft and, at first, the truth is in short supply.

Somehow this quartet, that fate has thrown together, must find a way to get along because the intent is for them to live on Earth Eight as a family.

The title is drawn from the fact that over the first four days of their flight, Naz intends to make three stomach-churning, sling shot turns.

The fantasy Turn, Turn, Turn represents clever and creative writing from Keith Gow.

Of course, it has immediate relevance to what Earth is experiencing now. I speak of overpopulation, climate change, depletion of resources and degradation of the planet.

The script taps into a renewal of interest in space missions to the Moon, Mars and beyond, and speaks to the haves and have nots.

So, while Gow’s concept isn’t new, his take on it is, well realised by actors capable of amping up the drama.

They show fear, vulnerability, single-mindedness and bite.

There is no weak link amongst the four that appear authentic and credible in their respective roles.

Set designer Tom Brayshaw has made good use of the space inside the Explosives Factory in crafting the skeleton of a spaceship.

There is a video screen at the rear, a control module in front of it and two airline style seats – a double and a single.

Sound and lighting design by Patrick Slee and Gabriel Bethune respectively is suitably atmospheric.

Director Renee Palmer ensures that the tension builds as the intrepid voyagers near their destination.

While Turn, Turn, Turn is futuristic, regrettably the essence of what is depicted may be closer than we think.

It is playing at Theatre Works’ Explosives Factory until 23rd September, 2023. * I saw a preview production of the show.

Review by Alex First. Photography by Phoebe Anne Taylor