Play #52 - Mission to Mars by Jeanne Beckwith
This is a disturbing little short play about, as the title suggests, a mission to Mars that has experienced some problems. Major Marty and Lieutenant Spike are currently on watch while their crew member Jane is in hibernation, and their other crew member Ralph is unexpectedly dead and frozen in the cargo hold. They were supposed to be followed by a maintenance module, but it is already quite late, and they haven't had contact with Earth in three weeks. Things are starting to get more than a little desperate. Marty tries to hold out hope and keep things together with procedures and rules, while Spike chooses a more cynical view of the situation, wondering what could have happened on Earth, since everything seems alright with their ship. They go through their checklists, and they argue about the what ifs, until finally, they decide to just keep going about their business until they just can't anymore.
Just reading this script made me feel claustrophobic. Have you seen Gravity? Done well, this play could probably have some of the feeling of the witty banter portions of that movie. The stakes would have to be very carefully calibrated for this script to work. Done poorly, it could just be two guys ribbing each other while moving in semi-slow motion.