A Sci-Fi Epic



a Lowry Theatre co-production

Three astronauts embark on the two-year mission to Mars. The only catch is that it's a one-way mission and every moment is broadcast to Earth in the form of a reality television show. Inspired by the real life organisation Mars One.

An intelligent and beautifully crafted story of hope, ambition, and legacy, we ask what would drive someone to leave Earth forever.

Icarus premiered at The Lowry Studio Theatre July 3rd 2014.


No Way Back

In 2010 the Mars One Foundation set out their plans to establish a human settlement on the red planet by the year 2024. They received over a quarter of a million applicants for the one-way mission. Icarus was inspired by the question: would you go?

As a private company Mars One's entire mission would rely on revenue from donations and merchendise. A key source of this income would also come from the sale of television rights. The plan was to create a Big Brother style reality television show charting the journey of each astronaunt from selection, to lift off and to eventual touch down.

With success so tightly wound with the nesecity to chase viewing figures would a relentless treadmill of populism start to take over? As the mission becomes a form of entertainment would we forget the monumental achievement or idly switch over? We felt that W.H Auden's poem Mussee des Beaux Arts elegantly enpsualted what we sough to express with the play.

Musee des Beaux Arts

About suffering they were never wrong,
The old Masters: how well they understood
Its human position: how it takes place
While someone else is eating or opening a window or just walking dully along;
How, when the aged are reverently, passionately waiting
For the miraculous birth, there always must be
Children who did not specially want it to happen, skating
On a pond at the edge of the wood:
They never forgot
That even the dreadful martyrdom must run its course
Anyhow in a corner, some untidy spot
Where the dogs go on with their doggy life and the torturer's horse
Scratches its innocent behind on a tree.

In Breughel's Icarus, for instance: how everything turns away
Quite leisurely from the disaster; the ploughman may
Have heard the splash, the forsaken cry,
But for him it was not an important failure; the sun shone
As it had to on the white legs disappearing into the green
Water, and the expensive delicate ship that must have seen
Something amazing, a boy falling out of the sky,
Had somewhere to get to and sailed calmly on.

Musee des Beaux Arts by W.H Auden – 1940


First Steps

In 2014 we became a Developed With company supported by the Lowry Theatre who helped us make the show. We also joined forces with the Harrogate Theatre as Associate Artists, spending a month in their wonderful theatre. The production was also supported by HUB at Slung Low, Unity Theatre, Liverpool, and financially supported by the Granada Foundation and Arts Council England.

Icarus was nomminated for a Manchester Theatre Award (Best Newcomer: Dominic Myerscough)

Icarus at the Lowry Studio


AnnaKatie Robinson
Alexei / LeonDominic Myerscough
Jack / TomMichael White

Creative Team

Written & Directed by:Michael White
Set Design by:Alex Swarsbrick
Sound Design by:Owen Rafferty
Lighting Design by:Chris Bowler
Production Images & Video by:Lucas Smith
Produced by:Dep Arts

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