Gazing At A Distant Star

Gazing at a Distant Star is a melancholy reminiscence on missing people, told by those left behind. Three intertwining monologues from a mother, a sister and a friend, draw its audience through the intricacies of loss.

In Gazing at a Distant Star, I found a heartfelt drama on loss that certainly deserves a look.

The Greenwich Theatre, where the show is running through January 29th, is a standard black box studio, and Gazing at a Distant Star is in some ways a very standard show for a small London venue: the simple set, small cast and hour-and-change run time seem to fit a model. So does its relatively inexperienced writer, Sian Rowland, and its thematic and practical connection to a charity (in this case Missing People, “dedicated to bringing missing children and adults back together with their families.”) But Rowland’s play exceeds the expectations its form sets.

Most striking is the performance of Victoria Porter as grieving mother Karen. She faces the audience with wet eyes and cheeks that shine under the stage lights and taps into the very basic, very effective connection between a mother and child. This section is probably the best written as well. Though all three plots conceal the fates of their missing person, that of Karen’s son is the most unexpected, and her arc is the deepest.

Serin Ibrahim and Harpal Hayer also put in solid performances, the former as Anna, who is starting to work out, and work out her relationship with her sister, and the latter as Arun, who is working at a call centre, saving money for uni. Hayer is charming in his awkwardness, and relatable in his guilt, but Ibrahim is hampered by a more obvious story progression, and poor sightlines for certain scenes. People low the ground and close to the front of a black box cannot be seen from behind other audience members.

Further, staging and movement, while not otherwise obstructive, is not instructive. Blocking is minimal, usually moving from a scene, at a desk, or having tea, or working out, to delivering straight to the audience. It works, but there must be room to do more to marry form and substance.

In Gazing at a Distant Star, I found a heartfelt drama on loss that certainly deserves a look.

Reviews by Bennett Bonci

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The Blurb

The world premiere of a moving new play about those who go missing, and those who are left behind.

Arun works in a call centre, desperately trying to save the money to go to university.

Anna trains for the 5k she never thought she wanted to run.

Karen works at a hardware store and tries to work out where it all went wrong…

Three lives intersect, three people struggle to cope with loss, to reach out and find the light beyond.

We are proud to launch the 2017 Greenwich Theatre studio programme with this world premiere production, written by RED Women’s Theatre Award shortlisted writer Sian Rowland.