The Theatreguide.London Review
Thousand Stars Explode In The Sky
End Of The
Universe is coming in two weeks (something to do with string theory),
and the members of a divided family regroup at the old family pig farm
to face cosmic annihilation together. That's the premise of this new
play co-written by David Eldridge (Market Boy), Robert Holman (Other
Worlds) and Simon Stephens (Punk Rock).
as the concept may be, it goes almost nowhere that you couldn't
predict, and almost nowhere that has anything new to say or offers much
for us to become emotionally involved with.
family are a
mother and her five grown sons. One is dying and may not make it to The
End, one is an emotionally closed man trying to raise his grandson, one
is a weakling who has abdicated all responsibility to his wife, one is
a street bum they've lost contact with, and one is a schoolboy with
wife, that grandson and his feckless mother, the coming apocalypse
seems to have bent time and space so that the ultimate matriarch, the
brothers' grandmother, can also appear with her lover. Oh, and the
grandson, who is about the same age as his youngest uncle, shares his
converge on the farm, old animosities will come to the fore, buried
questions will be asked and answered, truths will be told, and
presumably everyone will be better prepared to face the apocalypse in
peace. But the animosities prove little more than standard sibling or
marital grudges, the truths and revelations banal.
grandmother fears that she placed a House of Atreus curse on the family
with her adultery; the mother confesses that, feeling unloved by her
mother, she was unable to give love to her sons; and the brothers all
admit that in one way or another they consider themselves failures. And
somebody actually expresses the moral out loud - that they have to
learn to forgive themselves so that they can forgive each other.
Even by soap opera terms - and the play does keep sinking to soap opera level - this is pretty tame stuff, hardly enough to hold our interest or make us care.
Meanwhile the play
spends too much of its length meandering aimlessly rather than driving
toward its conclusion (perhaps a result of the group creation), giving
us time to notice how little it's telling us, how long it drags on
after saying all it had to say, and how awkwardly it handles its
subsidiary plot points
The missing brother, searched for in Exeter, is somehow stumbled on in London; the ghostly grandmother's crime is not presented as all that bad or even relevant; the boys' psychic powers are never much more than an incidental curiosity, just like their shared asthma; and one of the secondary characters is too blithely killed off offstage.
Director Sean Holmes must bear some responsibility for the play's weak structure and pacing, just marching his actors on to the mainly bare stage to play a scene and then walk off, rarely making either time or place clear, and not giving the play the building tension or momentum you would expect the impending time limit to generate.
The actors all work admirably but too often seem lost and abandoned by their playwrights and director, with only Nigel Cooke (dying man), Alan Williams (grandfather) and Harry McEntire (youngest brother) able to manage moments of reality and interest.
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Review - A
Thousand Stars Explode In The Sky - Lyric Hammersmith 2010