Ticketmaster Summer in Stages

Sawdust and Stardust

Written by Laura Lindow & Beccy Owen
The Studio, Live Theatre, Newcastle-upon-Tyne
(2011)

Sawdust and Stardust production photo

Described in the theatre’s season brochure as ‘the story of 30-something Stella in her ultimate quest to make a change and reach the top’, this ‘heartfelt’ one-woman show, performed by Beccy Owen, is a bit of a hotch-potch affair that never quite fulfils the promise it delivers.

I was expecting to see a show that chronicled one woman’s personal journey to self-awareness and discovery, a piece that encouraged its audience to embark upon the said journey with her and leave the theatre pondering all kinds of profound questions about life, its meaning and our part in it. Instead, I left feeling underwhelmed and disappointed.

The decision to stage a production based only upon one performer delivering an extended monologue is an audacious and risky one that, in this case, plummets faster and further than a rock dislodged from a mountain summit. The writing isn’t good enough, the performance isn’t strong enough and the story isn’t interesting enough.

The only ‘discovery’ that Stella seems to make about herself is that she has developed something of an unhealthy obsession about the woman who is her climbing companion, that borders on lesbianism. An obsession that, like most unhealthy obsessions, ends badly.

The rhetoric that claimed the production would be ‘weaving together a heady mix of quixotic music and imaginative text’ could best be translated as follows: a series of bizarre, jarring, wailing noises punctuating a script that is as flat as a glass of week-old cola.

Staged in Live Theatre’s intimate Studio, the performer and the production should have had the qualities and abilities to draw the audience into the epicentre of the piece and make them feel part of it. Instead, due to some inadequate staging, I spent much of the duration of the performance looking at the back of Beccy Owen and musing that the white thong that became increasingly visible over the waist of her jeans was hardly a suitable undergarment to wear for mountain climbing.

Never has an hour seemed so long!

Runs until Saturday 22nd January 2011.

Reviewer: Steve Burbridge