Monday 16 May 2022


Theatre review: Ilan Eshkeri's Space Station Earth at the Royal Albert Hall

Ilan Eshkeri is a British composer well-known for his sweeping film scores (two of my favs are Stardust and Kick-Ass). Together with astronauts from the European Space Agency he has brought his iconic style of music together with unique footage from out of space to create an immersive theatrical experience. It shows us the beauty that space has to offer – and how tiny we are in the grand scheme of things. It's both magnificent and humbling. 

The Space Station Earth show he wrote starts with an on-stage Q&A with a real-life astronaut, and finishes on an absolute bang with a 1-hour long epic concert. Heavily influenced by music from the 80s, with electric guitars and synthesisers (including a keytar) on stage alongside a full orchestra and choir – the performance was reminiscent of a rock concert at times. It was an incredible way to spend a Sunday afternoon in the grand surroundings of the Royal Albert Hall. 

Before the start of the musical performance, however, Ilan himself took the stage to interview none other than Tim Peake about his experiences in space. The show will be touring Europe later this year, and each performance will have a Q&A with another local astronaut, which is a really wonderful touch. Of course, it couldn't have been anyone else but Tim for the London show. 

They discussed everything from Tim's missions and watching earth from space through to how they met and Ilan's own experience in the "vomit comet" (a gravity-reduced aircraft). It was enlightening and a lot of fun, as the two clearly know each other well and enjoyed the conversation. They finished with a quick-fire round of questions, which got a fair few laughs and engagements from the audience, especially "aliens, yes or no" (yes, according to Tim) and "Star Wars or Star Trek" (Tim said Star Wars, otherwise his sons would come for him). 

After an interval it was time for the musical part of the show – and it was nothing short of epic. There was footage from a space launch through to weightless astronauts having fun in the International Space Station. And of course there was incredible imagery from planet earth, outer space, and everything in between. I'm not a massive space enthusiast, but you don't have to be to be able to admire the unique photographs and videos that have been created for this show. It's really something to marvel at. 

To top it off, the visuals were accompanied by brand-new music composed and performed by Ilan, alongside a band, orchestra, and choir. Although the awe-inspiring footage can most definitely stand on its own to impress audiences, combined with the music it really does turn into a spectacular show. 

As Tim Peake said in the Q&A: "Ilan has put to music what we find hard to put into words; the experience and the emotions of being in space." And that's exactly it. It's a moving and emotional performance; the realisation of how small we are in the grand scheme of things and how incredible the universe is (set to brilliant music and footage). Much of the audience was completely enthralled as they were watching the show. This is a truly unique and wonderful experience. 

Space Station Earth is embarking on a European Tour later this year, with shows scheduled in Belgium, Denmark, France, Germany, and Sweden. You can your book your tickets here.

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