There can be few moments in history that have so clearly embodied the idea of a global consciousness as the Apollo 13 mission. It reminds us of a time when the world was united by lofty aspirations and a belief in the power of human ingenuity.

For four agonising, uplifting days the world watched, prayed and urged on a crippled spaceship as it overcame impossible odds and improvised its way back home.

It is a story that can stand repeated retelling, and a youthful tech-savvy production team named Hackman has given the saga a distinctively 21st-century twist by placing the audience at the centre of the show.

The production takes audience participation to a whole new level in which the fear of being spotlighted and embarrassed dissolves as the audience are lured into the kind of make-believe that comes so naturally to young children.

The illusion is sustained by an imaginative and lovingly crafted production design that has the audience seated at rows of functioning consoles in front of a pair of massive projection screens and a reassuringly low-tech chalk board.

The launch sequence is brought alive by a bone-rattling soundtrack and some awesome close-up footage of the explosive Saturn Five rockets. By the time the mishap occurs in the ship's oxygen tanks, it is easy to believe that the fate of those courageous astronauts lies in the hands of a befuddled audience who are randomly flicking switches on their consoles and trying to make sense of the mind-boggling technical data that surrounds them.

Managing the chaos and keeping the narrative on course is the legendary flight director Gene Kranz, played with convincing and at times deranged intensity by Jason Whyte.

Kranz' faith in systems and procedures is nicely undermined by Ashley Hawkes in the role of a rookie technician whose goofy naivety encourages the audience to draw on their own resources. At key moments the professional actors disappear, and outcomes depend on audience members seizing the moment and putting themselves forward.

If there is a message emerging from all the mayhem, it arises out of the appealingly democratic notion that human creativity is at its most powerful when rigid management systems are abandoned and people are inspired by a common sense of purpose.