Transmission (1 star)

This article is from 2017

Mars Actually

Alien contact project is far too ambitious for its own good

What a waste. And worse, what an utterly bewildering waste.

To be fair, Toronto-based theatre company Toasterlab's alien-contact project Transmission is such a breathtakingly ambitious undertaking that it's hardly surprising it doesn't come off. Comprising an app, podcasts, live site-specific scenes around Edinburgh plus various interactive possibilities on their website and across social media, it revolves around mysterious transmissions that Earth has been receiving from distant planet Luxtaterra, and a 90-year mission to travel there to make first alien contact. It's a compelling back story – but it's also a big ask to expect busy Fringe-goers to engage with Transmission across all its possible platforms.

If only this live show was the flagship element to encourage time-poor punters to explore further. Instead, it begins as a final mission briefing from the three figures behind the project, full of TED-style hyperbole but sketchy on anything like interesting details, and delivered with so little projection that at times the three actors' voices hardly carry to the front row. And then, apart from a brief solo spot from mission commander Leila Karam with a more emotional tone, it stops. About 20 minutes short of the show's advertised hour-long running time.

It's hard to imagine anything flatter or less theatrical. There are countless ways that Transmission could have been brought vividly alive for an audience. In their live show, at least, Toasterlab have carefully avoided all of them.

Assembly George Square Studios, until 26 Aug (not 21), 2.55pm, £10.


  • 1 star

Would you give up everything on earth to meet our celestial neighbours? What is loneliness in a universe in which we know we aren't alone? Join Commander Leila Karam for the Saena Mission briefing as part of Transmission, a distributed performance series about the discovery of intelligent alien life and the sisters who…