Review by Ian McArdell
Across the Fifth and Sixth phases of Red Moon, The Wireless Theatre Company’s six-part alternate history of the space race, we finally get to the core of the conspiracy surrounding SpaceCom’s Eagle One nuclear base.The series has followed the exploits of former British security officer Eddie Sloper (Philip Bulcock), who became aware of a covert operation involving the US nuclear Moonbase when he picked up on a discrepancy regarding data cartridges and his enquiries led to a murder.
Drawing in former SpaceCom employer Dr Susan Madison (Yasmine Holness-Dove), who has spotted dangerous glitches in the Eagle One operating system, the pair are on the run after an audacious raid on the UK SpaceCom headquarters and are now in possession of a vital disc – one which has the information needed to restore Eagle One’s system back to normal.
Phase V – Transit
Hooking up with Sloper’s American contact, we discover some history to the space race and its dark origins in the Nazi V2 rocket programme of World War II, as well as the fact that the clock is ticking on whatever Lt Gen Atherton’s plan is – codenamed “Darkside”.
After being chased by the CIA, in an absorbing sequence which featured terrific sound design, Sloper and Madison realise they need to head up the country to RAF Spadeadam, a fall back control centre for the Moonbase and the only place where their reset disc can be utilized. Of course, this also requires breaking into a high security US base…
With a road trip and some clever spycraft, we enjoyed hearing the developing chemistry between Sloper and Madison, with the former opening up about his deceased wife. Outside Spadeadam, the double act of Wendy and Felicity, both members of WAMM – Women Against Moon Militarisation – had us chuckling too.
Phase VI – Darkside
With all roads leading to a final confrontation at Spadeadam, the scene is set for an incredibly tense final confrontation as Atherton (William Hope) reveals the sheer audacity and terrifying implications of his plan.
No spoilers here, but we are a very much in Bond movie finale territory, with Sloper and Madison having to take heroic measures to save the day – and Sloper even manages a great Bond-ish pun too.
Cleverly thought out and satisfyingly concluded, Robert Valentine’s Red Moon has been well worth the ride; a richly conceived mix of sci-fi and spy thriller which has held up a fascinating, distorted mirror to the Cold War and the politics of the space race with its “What if?” premise.
I also enjoyed the well-earned optimistic tone the story struck at its conclusion, lightening the mood of the laconic Sloper – with the series’ success being due in no small part to the excellent central performance of Phillip Bulcock.
All six episodes now available to stream from the Wireless Theatre Company website, with the first available for free.