In December last year we learned that Marina Sirtis aka Deanna Troi would be making her West End debut at Trafalgar Studios. The show wouldn’t be running for long (it’s final performance is the 3rd August).
There was a huge amount of hype in the run up from the incredibly passionate and enthusiastic team made up of Andrew Keates (Director), Jamie Chapman Dixon and Piers Cottee-Jones (Producers) who went up and down the country, across convention halls to promote this play.
So we were pretty fast to book the moment the tickets had gone on sale. Had we waited just a few days we would have have purchased through the crowdfunding site but alas we had already committed a weekend and made an away mission out of it.
When we purchased the tickets online we knew immediately that this was an intimate theatre. Only three rows deep, with stalls on all three sides of the stage. We went front and centre!
The set was Marianne’s (Sirtis) living room which was able to transform into a sci-fi set for flashback scenes to the obscure 80’s show Dark Sublime.
We’re going to copy+paste the official description because we just want to deep dive this play!
“Oli arrives at the door of Marianne, a fading jobbing actress. He’s impatient to make an impression, to make a friend. Marianne knows about waiting – for her turn at something more substantial than a half-remembered role on a cult TV show, for her best friend to see her differently. As Oli forces her back into the past, and a strange, outrageous world she hasn’t visited in almost 40 years, Marianne must find her own way into the future – and together they begin to discover what every good relationship needs: time and space.
Michael Dennis’ debut comedy boldly explores what later life is like for older gay women as well as the next generation, testing the outer limits of how far friendships and relationships can be pushed. Fans will do anything for their heroes – but what if your biggest fan is your closest companion?”
What we thought and what it meant to us.
One of the words the Director and Producers kept using when describing the play was ‘serendipitous’. If you are a Sci-Fi fan or actor watching this play, that is the best way to describe it.
Being sci-fi fans we immediately empathised with Oli (and it wasn’t just that his character worked in Waterstones as Carole did for many years!). Kwaku Mills played him beautifully, with all the physical manifestations that come with anxiety, between himself and Marina they portrayed the interaction and complexities between fan and hero perfectly.
Neither of us are friends with any of our TV heroes but we are fortunate enough to interact with them occasionally and have experienced or witnessed the joys and pitfalls that come with that privilege. There’s one moment where Oli recalls how watching Dark Sublime and particularly watching Marianne made him feel. How it transported him to another place and gave him hope.
There were no dry eyes in the theatre and many of us in the audience connected to Oli and dwelled on our own connection to our fandom and TV heroes.
As we sat in that emotional moment, Marianne snaps a joke, dismissing Oli’s feelings, which for me, reminded me of the humiliation I used to feel when someone would snark “it’s just a TV program, it’s not real”.
It was fascinating seeing it from the otherside though. Through Marinas performance we could see the similar impact fans can have on the actor. Marianne and her best friend Kate are going through a turbulent patch, Marianne is not getting the attention from her friend and here is Oli with an abundance of attention and worship.
When Oli continues to ask questions about the show or gets excited about another cast member you can see the hurt this causes Marianne and the desire to be appreciated for more than that one role.
It was easy for us to get caught up in the sci-fi fan/actor element of this play but the truth is, it goes much further than that. It’s about friendship enduring 30 years (The Trekkie Girls are at 25 years friendship and counting). It’s a story about love both romantic and platonic. There was an acceptance and embracement in the same sex relationships which was refreshening to see. Whilst we are all straight women, the poignancy was not lost on us.
It was also refreshing to see a story about women older than us. As we continue to grow older (and yes we’re sticking with the name Trekkie Girls as we warp speed into middle age!) these sort of characters appeal to us more. The women are fabulous, comfortable in their skin whilst also able to show their vulnerability.
There’s also the intergenerational relationships which are often overlooked in many broadcast media but which many of us have. The age differences between Marianne and Oli, Kate and Suzanne were acknowledged but they worked and didn’t slip into a parent/child relationship as can often happen.
Michael Dennis did a tremendous job writing this story and each of the actors were superb. Marina was born to play Marianne!
We would 10/10 see this play again….every weekend!
Have you seen Dark Sublime yet? Do you agree with our thoughts or did you interpret it in other ways?
Dark Sublime runs until 3rd August. Book here.
Highlight: As if we hadn’t already been blessed enough, having an away mission together in our Countries capital as it hit 34 Degrees Celsius, we managed to see Marina at the backstage door! She was incredibly gracious, stopping to sign autographs for all her fans.
Of course our inner Oli quickly emerged as we later wondered, ‘were we cool?’ ‘were we too overbearing?’ ‘did I get my sweaty armpit on Marinas shoulder!?’
What we loved: The excessive use of Bollinger mixed with British snacks like Spicy Nik Naks or frazzles! Exactly our taste!