Sweep Up The Stars charts the bittersweet journey of Bill/William, who is determined to become a writer when, at the age of eight, his older self appears to him through the power of time travel.
The performances are strong, with simple costume elements effectively indicating character doubling
In this whimsical two-hander written by Patrick Robertson, the story unfolds outside the rules of time as young Bill begins writing what he is certain will be a masterpiece. He has this certainty because future William has published a book entitled Sweep Up The Stars. William won’t tell Bill what it is about, because that would be cheating – other than to say it’s not the science fiction young Bill loves. He won’t tell Bill much, in fact, other than a few clues here and there, leaving Bill to discover his way himself.
I enjoyed the clever beginning where the fourth wall is broken through direct address by the performers, who also call on some audience members to briefly play the roles of Bill/William’s parents. This is skilfully done, with young Bill proffering helpful prompts for the audience members to respond to William’s expository questions and it succeeds in pulling the audience into the story.
A central theme of the play is the fictions we tell ourselves. It asks what the reward of literary greatness is – and its price. The performances are strong, with simple costume elements effectively indicating character doubling, and the use of props – some of which aren’t strictly necessary.
There are times when the staging becomes static, and the scenes between Bill and his father would benefit from a greater change in rhythm. In the later parts of the play, I felt the dialogue was overwritten. A cute remark from William referring to his authorial tendency to pen 7-page treatises on moral subjectivity did short-circuit my concern in part, but while this lyrical waxing does indeed characterise him, there is room for further tightening in the script.
Ultimately though, there is much to like about this quirky, philosophical journey through the life of one man, and the book of his life.