A play by Ted Tally. It's about the famous race for the South Pole by a British team, led by Captain Robert Falcon Scott, and a Norwegian team, led by Roald Amundsen. The play focuses on the Brits, who lost the race by a month and ended up dying in the snows on the way back to the Antarctic coast. Scott's journals were found with his body and detailed much of the team's journey and tragic end.

The play is an odd, hallucinatory thing. While it is indeed set in Antarctica and everyone dresses appropriately, there are numerous flashbacks to Scott's wife, Kathleen, who visits and sometimes interacts with the team wearing clothes suitable for an English summer. Amundsen himself appears frequently, serving as a combination of nemesis and Greek chorus. In fact, the second act begins with the British team dining together in England and toasting the success of their expedition--an event which, obviously, never occurred.

I've only seen "Terra Nova" once, when I was in college, and it's still my favorite ever. There was almost no publicity done for this play (a criminal act, considering the weeks of advertising done for the far inferior production of "Chicago" later that year), but the theater was still packed. The set was stark and almost empty: two white wooden arches on either side of the stage (I've heard of other productions where most of the stage was draped in white sheets). The actor playing Captain Scott wasn't even a drama major, but he got the haggard, haunted look perfect. The actor portraying Amundsen was quite amazing, switching from sympathetic observer to dastardly supervillain from one scene to the next. There were also some very interesting things done with some of the props, the supply sled in particular; I've never forgotten the scene where Amundsen seemingly transforms a dining table into the sled just by whipping the tablecloth off.

And the best special effect of all: the theater was well-heated, but the audience shivered.