Stars Are Fire Press Reviews31st July 2012 by Martin Gibbons
Monkeywood Theatre premiered STARS ARE FIRE at New Century House, Manchester, as part of the 24:7 Theatre Festival from 20 – 26 July 2012. Written by Francesca Waite and directed by Liz Postlethwaite, the cast comprised Emma Clarke (Carly), Richie Gibson (Lou) and Steve Hillman (Neil). STARS ARE FIRE was nominated for Best Production in Equity’s Vicky Allen Award and The Cooperative Group Award for Audience Favourite Show.
“The script is wonderful, but some of the most effective scenes are between Carly and Neil, where nothing is said, but the tension between them is absolutely deafening… Stars are Fire is an example of a simple, relatable story being told in a very engaging way. It just goes to show you don’t need big shocking reveals or outlandish premises to entertain an audience.”
“A quiet, thoughtful piece that builds in intensity, but with great subtlety, you will be thinking about these characters long after you have left them on the windswept coastline, watching for the Northern Lights.”
“The play is another success for Manchester’s Monkeywood Theatre and an impressive debut from Waite, which highlights an ability to deal with the most raw emotions in a sensitive way, and which can’t fail to move.”
“The action of Stars Are Fire is never whirlwind, overwrought or dishonest; it’s carefully considered and the story is told effectively with time and simplicity partnered by three touching performances… Grief can’t and shouldn’t be hurried and Waite and Postlethwaite handle this knowledge intelligently throughout. In fact, it’s a pleasure to find a play where silence is as important as words.”
“… some really lovely moments in this play. Director Liz Postlethwaite isn’t frightened of long silences or static scenes, which are often used to very good effect. The relationship between Carly and Lou remains ambiguous until the final moments, and it is handled with great subtlety and sensitivity… The standout performance of the play—perhaps of the festival—is Richie Gibson as Lou, who gives a beautifully, fully-rounded portrayal of a man who has never left his home town and has repressed any ambitions in favour of the easy life.”
“…not everything is neatly resolved, which would have been unrealistic, but you have hope that all three characters have started on the journey of healing.”
“My odyssey through what would now be seven out of ten productions began with Francesca Waite’s skilful slice of life Stars Are Fire. The title points ot the most whimsical thing in the piece, used as a means of reconciliation between teenage Carly, brought up in Manchester, and her dad Neil.”
In January 2013, STARS ARE FIRE was invited to The Library Theatre’s re:play festival at The Lowry. The play was remounted with the original cast and director for 3 performances at The Lowry, followed by a short tour of the north west to The Mill at The Pier in Wigan, The Lantern Theatre in Liverpool and Xaverian College in Rusholme, Manchester.
“Never crass or showy or overly melodramatic, though with a few explosive moments to be sure, this comes across as a nuanced, deftly written drama about the cost of bereavement and the price of renewal.”
“Another hit was Stars are Fire, a tender portrait of a fractured family torn apart by the death of a mother and wife.”