Theatre Review: Stardust @ Southwark Playhouse
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This new piece of work by Miguel Hernando Torres Umba & Blackboard Theatre comes to Southwark Playhouse as part of the CASA Latin American Theatre Festival. It follows the journey of the coca plant from South America, until it manifests itself as a line of cocaine in the Western World. Exploring themes of the human cost involved, and the negligence of the Western world in acknowledging the issues caused to the South American continent by Western consumption, Stardust has an intriguing premise that sadly never truly comes to fruition. Performed as a single hander, Miguel Umba unfortunately fails to carry the performance, from the shortfall in his acting, to the underdeveloped concepts within the production. Playing with structure, Stardust tackles the subject using experimental structures and playing with theatrical convention, which if given proper development could have been truly impactful. This is not the case, which leads to transitions lacking finesse, the production suffering in pacing due to a lack of editing, and a confused overall direction. For a production billed as ‘combining powerful visual imagery and incredible physicality’, it has sections upon sections of pure text. Albeit the visual imagery used, in particular through the animation, is atmospheric, unique and visually striking - if not overstaying its welcome due to the continued issues in pacing. Miguel’s physicality in the sections of movement throughout is captivating, however lacks intention and ultimately fails to leave an impression. Stemming from a topic that is rarely explored in Western countries, except when it is glamourised, Stardust poses important questions on Western denial, where too often we look at the problem at home, however not at its origin. Given a few more weeks to hone and develop the production would have assisted it vastly, as in the end, the production fails to hold the weight it should. For more information about Stardust, click here.