Rena Brannan gives four stars to a play that goes “where no one has before”
BY RENA BRANNAN
Quips and witticisms abound in Dark Sublime as Marina Sirtis plays Marianne, an actor who a long time ago (the 1980s) in a galaxy far, far away (a Bristol lingerie factory) played the lead in a low-budget science fiction TV show.
The show had aired during a period of civil unrest in Britain: strikes, Thatcherism, the end of “society” and, as with all science fiction, was full of metaphor and meaning.
Marianne wakes one morning to find herself teaching vets to feel, drinking copious amounts of Tesco wine, and still in love with Kate, her best friend Kate of 40 years (Jacqueline King).
Kate has a new love interest, Suzanne (Sophie Ward) and Marianne is avoiding her. When Oli (Kwaku Mills) sends her a fan letter and wants to interview her for his new podcast, the unexpected stranger turns everything upside down, a touch of Ibsen which echoes delightfully in one of Marianne lines: “I played Hedda Gabler at the Bolton Octagon and it was wonderful.”
And then there’s the sub-space reality of an un-transmitted episode of a television show, co-starring Commander Vykar (Simon Thorp), intergalactically dispersed between the scenes of ever-growing frustration in Marianne’s real life.
Sirtis, as Marianne, leads the way. Her portrayal of the down-on-her-luck hero trapped in a world over which she has very little control, goes from crying-with-laughter funny to heart-wrenching tears as the character ends up in a hotel in Walsall for a sci-fi fan convention off the A34.
She is supported by an outstanding cast; all droll, and pitch-perfect. King as Kate manages to capture a combination of tolerance for her best friend’s quirks, to indignant distaste for her neediness. Ward is captivating as Kate’s new girlfriend, the wide-eyed newcomer to the friendship. Mills shines as Oli, the fan that everyone loves to chat to. And Thorp is formidable as Commandar Vykar and the louche Bob.
Go see this debut play, delightfully written by Michael Dennis, and finely directed by Andrew Keates at the Trafalgar Studios until 3 August 2019. Running time 2 hours 20 minutes with interval.
Only reading DIVA online? You’re missing out. For more news, reviews and commentary, check out the latest issue. It’s pretty badass, if we do say so ourselves.