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Stars: An Afrofuturist Space Odyssey | Everyman Theatre

Meet Mrs, her real name unknown to us until the end of the story, as she embarks on a space odyssey to take control of her own sexual pleasure. With her desire to finally experience an orgasm before she dies, she has three encounters which spark her quest - a young neighbour who discloses a secret, an old friend who reveals that she is intersex and a potential lesbian lover from the local laundrette.

The staging for this production is set up quite simply but effectively. On a slanted stage to give a futuristic sci-fi feel stood a table and chairs, a radio, a fridge and Mrs' pet fish, which is ironically called 'Cat'. Throughout the production, music plays from the radio (which actually comes from the DJ table), this is where the only other character on stage is stood and this is DJ and Mrs' son, Michael Manners. This staging and music design is cleverly created to give the sense that Mrs is a lonely woman, isolated from the world in a dreary way, taking comfort from hearing her son's voice on the radio as he rarely visits her. This is further enhanced by captions projected onto the screen behind Mrs, as she debates with her pet fish and the captions capture the fish's response.

Debra Michaels who portrays Mrs is such an effective storyteller, enthralling audience members who cling to every word that she says. This play explores delicate themes of sexual identity, FGM, sexual abuse and surgical correction of an intersex character. Debra is powerful in her monologues, with the added lighting design which draws attention to Mrs in the more delicate moments. She is never forceful but gives meaning to the words that she says and allows audience members to really think about these sensitive themes. Debra also plays a range of different roles, altering her demeanour and voice throughout that sometimes feels like a completely different person playing the role. Debra is a force to be reckoned with and really shines within this role.

Beautiful animations play at certain points of this production, designed by Candice Purwin. These move the stories along smoothly and contribute towards the futuristic feel but I sometimes felt that they were slightly too long. I was more engaged through Debra's acting rather than the video projections. Mojisola Adebayo has written this piece of theatre to allow significant and vital messages to shine through, whilst delicately intertwining some real funny moments which lightens the overall mood of the piece, as it can be quite dark and distressing at times.

This story is so important and is incredibly empowering for many women and is a story that deserves to be told. This piece of theatre is a journey of discovery through authentic storytelling in which women can feel empowered to take control of their own bodies and their own lives.


AD | gifted tickets in return for an honest review | photography by Ali Wright


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