After two years dominating the Fringe with critically acclaimed Translunar Paradise, Theatre Ad Infinitum are back with a brand new show. Ballad Of The Burning Star is completely and utterly different from last year’s smash hit. The accordion accompanied masked melancholy of the company’s previous triumph is swapped for heel stomping, ball busting, burlesque fueled storytelling. Ad Infinitum take the audience through a tragic and thought-provoking tale set at the heart of the Israeli - Palestinian conflict. This project is, if nothing else, a risk. They have strayed away from their comfort zone and have without a doubt nailed it.
The cross-dressed, camped up and scathingly sharp MC for the night is ‘Star’ (Nir Paldi). He assumes the position of head honcho, commanding a military costumed cabaret troupe; the ‘Starlets’. This ferocious, all female, international ensemble are one of the most energetic I’ve seen, driving home the political messages of the play with sharp and vivacious choreography. Their talent to swap between character and ensemble was phenomenal. They were hilarious, sexy, aggressive and moving all at once. Nir Paldi’s wit and intensity as Star punctuated the piece perfectly. As soon as an emotional climax was met, Paldi would snap in with side splitting diva attitude, never allowing the audience to rest too long on any one character or anecdote.
This was central to the piece. The conflict in question has been the subject of blood spill and intense debate. Ad Infinitum did well to showcase both sides of the argument without bias, leaving the audience to make their own assumptions over moral and political ‘right’ and ‘wrong’.
The ensemble start out delivering lines perfectly in time with music that underscores the entire show. Throughout the piece this timing waivers, Star becomes increasingly infuriated at the troupes ever more frequent mistakes, and as the political and moral debate intensifies the show and its burlesque facade unravels. The audience are left with a moving and truthful finale, without dress up, dancing, music or other such frills.
This performance helps define Theatre Ad Infinitum as a stand out company. Translunar Paradise was one of my favourite pieces at the Fringe last year. Ballad Of The Burning Star is a completely different, yet equally exciting and compelling piece of theatre.