Image copyright Manuel Harlan
Image caption Jessica Raine performances Gilda, a member of the marooned gang on Pluto

“I’m a massive science fiction devotee so this is a dream is true, ” says actress Jessica Raine.

The Call the Midwife star is preceding the throw of X, Alistair McDowall’s claustrophobic, and often startling, new play at London’s Royal Court theatre.

Set on studies and research base on Pluto, the skeleton gang have lost contact with Earth and are waiting for help to arrive.

Their sense of quarantine changes as the base’s digital clock starts to behave strangely – and soon it seems that time itself is breaking down around them.

“I’ve ever hankered is still in something set in a dystopian future, ” says Raine, whose TV roles such as Midwife, Jericho and Wolf Hall often check her in season costume.

Not so in X, where she gets to wear robes with a futuristic insignia and watch a colleague puking into a infinite helmet.

The actress registers the Alien sci-fi horror franchise among her favourite movies.

“I like to think of this as my Ripley moment, ” she says, adding that X playwright McDowall committed her with an act chassis of Ellen Ripley – the character played by Sigourney Weaver in the Alien series.

Image copyright Manuel Harlan
Image caption The romp features an impressive seat base set by Merle Hensel

In X Raine plays Gilda, a apprehensive gang member who fights to cope with the isolation of being at the leading edge of the Solar System.

“I said yes to it because I remembered the compose was phenomenal, ” she says. “I read it on my honeymoon and on the long flight back I couldn’t sleep.

“My heart was thrashing and I couldn’t stop thinking about it. It did something to my physically. I felt like I had to play Gilda.”

McDowall describes X as “quite a personal” play.

“I was trying to write about what it means to be alone. There’s a lot of trash that springs from my own childhood and defences. It’s been a strange and psychological ride.”

The writer, whose previous works include Pomona and Brilliant Adventures, doesn’t reference X as science fiction.

“It’s a gambling set in space but I don’t think it’s a cavity participate. I think of it more as a psychological drama. Like a lot of science fiction, it’s not about seat or Pluto. It’s about people on Earth.”

He also divulges he wrote the play by hand.

“I was very aware of its room determine and its category tropes, so I tried to soil myself as much as possible and wrote it with pen and paper.”

Image copyright Manuel Harlan
Image caption Is there something out there in the darkness of Pluto’s surface?

Why did he adjust it on Pluto?

“It’s the furthest away place from Clay in the popular imagination. You either say Timbuktu or Pluto. And Pluto’s a bit of an underdog. It’s not a planet anymore and they didn’t know what to call it for a while, ” says McDowall.

“A gigantic part of the participate is about being being away from dwelling and Pluto is the most extreme location I could determine that situation.”

X is at the Royal Court’s Jerwood Theatre Downstairs until 7 May .


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