The Library Theatre’s Re:Play sees a return of Francesca Waite’s play, Stars are Fire originally presented by Monkey Wood Theatre at last year’s 24:7 Festival.
If you wonder about the title, it is chosen because the central figure, Carly, a Mancunian struggling to interact with her father and relate to strangers in Northumberland, is a keen astronomer. It is this interest which draws her to Lou, who takes her on his motor bike to view the unpolluted night sky.
The play focuses on the relationship between Steven Hillman’s Neil, Carly’s father, Richie Gibson’s Lou, her second cousin and Carly herself played by Emma Clarke. The most explosive relationship is between Neil and Carly. Explosive is the wrong word because the tensions between them implode rather than explode, at least initially. This is illustrated by uneasy silences.
Unfortunately, there are too many silences. Intended to be significant they have the effect of making the play seem slow moving and the narrative drags slightly as a result.
Both father and daughter are suffering after the death of Carly’s mum which is why they move to Northumberland. And Richard Gibson’s Lou is especially appealing as he plays a man who prefers to relax at home rather than explore the world. This irritates Carly who desperately wants him to take her home to Manchester on his motorbike.
As a play, Stars Are Fire creeps up on you slowly before taking hold of your emotions in a surprising way. Beautifully written, it reaches the soul of the three people it portrays and eventually touches your soul, too.
- Julia Taylor