Review: Dark Sublime at Trafalgar Studios

As far as debut plays get, luring Star Trek cult hero Marina Sirtis back to the stage for the first time in 20 years seems like the dream start.

It is, after all, a dream fit for Sirtis, with the ageing sci-fi star granted the chance to play the role of an ageing sci-fi star Marianne, tracked down by a superfan of Dark Sublime, a show she starred in 35 years ago. From there the narrative takes in a lesbian love triangle featuring Marianne’s best friend and touches upon themes of stardom, rejection and, ultimately finding your place in the real world.

Certainly, Sirtis is given ample chance to display her full range and holds the stage admirably throughout as she drags the audience into her character Marianne’s emotional journey through a waning career and unrequited love.

From there, Michael Dennis’ play is an uneven affair a rather uneven affair, sharp and concise one moment before segueing into lengthy and meandering scenes. The daunting two-hour-forty-minute run-time also poses some problems, and there is definitely fat that could be cut from the play.

Kwaku Mills gives a fizzing display as Dark Sublime super-fan Ollie, some of his interactions with Sirtis a particular delight, while Simon Thorp and Jacqueline King are very able in bringing their characters to life.

Thorp in particular takes great delight in hamming up his role in the regular scenes taken from Dark Sublime, waving a futuristic gun around with gusto and bellowing his lines with glee.

The writer at times displays some sharp writing, and he clearly thrives in the twists and turns of a scene, with the emotion in a couple landing perfectly.

The set design is another huge positive, the simple lounge setting transformed instantaneously into a classic 80’s starship, complete with flashing doors and touch console in place of the coffee table, to induce extreme nostalgia for the days of Blake’s Seven and Star Trek.

There is, ultimately, too much sitting around and talking, with the cast consuming a prodigious amount of alcohol thanks to the endless dialogue they share. From front room to convention hall and back again, barely a scene goes past without a brandy, wine glass or bottle in the hands of of a character.

Indeed, for all the high points – of which there are plenty – alcohol is certainly one way to help the three hours pass a little quicker.

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