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Stars Are Fire (24:7 Theatre Festival - Manchester)

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
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Venue: New Century House
Where: Manchester

A sea of unpacked boxes, a flask of tea, and a father and daughter barely on speaking terms – Carly and her dad are starting again in Northumberland after her mum's death. While this is “home” for Neil, Carly just wants to be back in bustling Manchester with everyone and everything she knows. With the faltering support of second cousin Lou, can father and daughter make a go of things, or will Carly actually carry out one of her many threats to leave?

This gentle, emotional drama is beautifully written by Francesca Waite, although as Carly and Neil alternately freeze each other out, what the characters don't and can't say is just as important as what they do. The silences that unfold between them may be typical of a teenage daughter/father relationship, but are also charged with the intense pain both characters are feeling.

With Carly's interest in astronomy – not astrology – and the kindling of her friendship with small-town, unadventurous Lou, Stars Are Fire is lifted from being a simple story of grief into a crafted, believable world where family relationships are put to the test.

A quiet, thoughtful piece that builds in intensity, but with great subtlety, you will be thinking about these characters long after you have left them on the windswept coastline, watching for the Northern Lights.

- Harriet Judd


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