Dark Sublime Dives Into A Cheesy Time Warp
The space-time continuum gets warped in Dark Sublime. A little overlong and full of superfluous scenes and location changes, it's bewildering to work out the play's time and setting. The plays is part homage to a cheesy science fiction show from the eighties and part living room drama played out over large quantities of wine.
The piece centres around Marianne (Marina Sirtis). She is a serious actress but found fame and a way to pay off her mortgage through Dark Sublime and other bad television in the eighties.
A young man with an obsession for the show and a fan website tracks her down to interview her (Kwaku Mills). He's staging a convention and reuniting the cast to the delight of the Twitter-sphere. But as her ego is being stoked by her fans, her longtime friendship with Kate (Jacqueline King) breaks down. Particularly when she finds a new partner.
It's amusing watching Marina Sirtis play Marianne. She spent over a decade playing the half human half mind reader Deanna Troi in Star Trek The Next Generation. There's more than a hint that she's sending herself up as an actress pursued by fans. And she's more fun here with her caustic put-downs and evil laugh concealing loneliness and a sense that the best years might be behind her.
It's writer Michael Dennis's first play. It is full of rich detail about the world of television, and the piece intelligently uses flashbacks from the past are intended to highlight the problems of the present. Dennis has created characters layered with quirks and traits. However, this all means that the show moves at a leisurely pace.
While the show could do with a trim from its two-hour-plus length, patience has its rewards with this cast who excel at building the characters. Eventually, it has something to say about relationships and finding meaning in life.
Dark Sublime, Trafalgar Studios, Whitehall, SW1A 2DY, £25-£35. Until 3 August
Last Updated 09 July 2019