Stars in Their Eyes
Stars in their eyes, produced by akAA productions, left a lot to be desired. The programme sounded promising: two one-act plays dealing with mental illness, fame, power and imprisonment. Unfortunately, both plays missed the mark and left me confused and underwhelmed.
The first play – Starcrossed – had impressive elements. Both actors worked well together as mother and daughter mixed up in their own beliefs; both as misguided and unhealthy as the other. Joanne Sutton delivered the performance of the night as Cass, a young schizophrenic woman with a passion for the cosmic. I was really impressed with her focus and ability to imbue her character with depth, sympathy and interest. Kristina Benton was also a strong performer, and managed to provide the audience with understanding and sympathy for her character, which could have easily fallen into a one-dimensional woman full of bitterness and spite.
Where Starcrossed really fell down was in the script. While the motifs of stars, space and cosmic forces worked quite well, there was a lack of sensible linkage between the non-naturalistic and the realistic elements of the piece. It seemed that there was simply too much content crammed into an hour-long piece. Had the writer given the actors a chance to really explore a few themes that he tackled in the piece, the play may have been more well-rounded and rich.
The second play of the night – The Premiere – simply left me feeling as though I had missed something. Set in a prison cell, The Premiere explores the destructive nature of technology, as well as its potential benefits. Hannah Gott and Gavin Williams were impressive as the young couple Livia and Seb. Jonathan Dyer performed well as Matt, a passionate activist against dictator Robert Fellows, well-acted by Bruce Kerr.
Like Starcrossed, the actors were the highlight of this piece, miserably let down by the play itself. Again, I felt there was simply too much involved in this one-act play; it would have benefited from substantial editing and perhaps extension into a full-length piece. This would have allowed the performers to really delve deeper into the issues it raised. The other problem was the multimedia elements of the play – while I could see what the director was intending, poor production values and poorer execution prevented me from understanding what was going on or why it needed to happen.
Both plays hold promise, however they need to be edited and re-worked to ensure that the very valid and interesting themes they deal with can be properly explored. I felt that, just as the actors were sold short of their true abilities as performers, the discussions that could have occurred as a result of these plays were quashed by the confusion they created. It’s nice to see new pieces that seek to challenge us and begin important discussions about our world and its meaning, however for me these plays need much more work before they are coherent enough to produce the discussion of which they are both capable.