Edinburgh Evening News
August 27, 2019
SCI-FI as a genre has had a chequered history when it comes to bring the classics to the stage, so it’s intersting that the Lyceum have chosen Solaris, based on the classic science-fiction novel by Stanisław Lem, to open their forthcoming season.
Already adaped for cinema by both Andrei Tarkovsky and Steven Soderbergh, the new stage adaptation by David Greig finds Hugo Weaving playing Gibarian via video in the production, as he communicates with protagonist Dr Kris Kelvin, played by Polly Frame.
Written by Lem in 1961, Solaris’ central theme is the failure of human beings to understand an extraterrestrial intelligence.
A team of scientists probing the oceanic surface of the planet Solaris are in turn are being studied by the sentient planet itself…
Speaking of the production, Lyceum artistic director and playwright David Greig says, “Writing the adaptation for Solaris has been as fascinating as exploring a newly discovered planet.
“I had no idea Stanisław Lem’s book was so funny, so moving, and such a fascinating philosophical disquisition on the eternal human problem of our relationship with ‘the other’ – whether that other is a person, a planet, a lover or a monster.
“The premise is simple: there are three scientists on a space station orbiting a great planet, a psychologist arrives to check on their wellbeing, and strange things start to happen – is the planet communicating with them? Or are they imagining it? Is it a god? Or a demon? Or a child?”
He continues, “Tarkovsky’s film is moving and atmospheric but discovering the novel was like uncovering a whole new layer – lively and witty and playful and a vision of the future that manages to be both entirely strange, yet as familiar as Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy or Red Dwarf.
“But this novel, and our imagining, is also a return to the future as it was conceived in the Sixties -science fiction on stage is so often about tin foil, sliding doors and empty space whereas this is about mahogany bookcases, smoking cigarettes and spools of tape.”
Weaving, whose credits include Lord of the Rings, The Matrix and The Adventures of Pricilla, Queen of the Deser), will film the role of Gibarian, the ill-fated doctor whose love and fascination for the planet causes his mysterious demise just before Kelvin arrives on board the space station.
While he appears on video, the on stage cast is completed by Keegan Joyce, Jade Ogugua and Fode Simbo.
Solaris, Royal Lyceum, Grindlay Street, 12 September-5 October, 7pm (2pm), £10-£33, 0131-248 4848