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Sawdust and Stardust

Published by: Steve Burbridge on 19th Jan 2011 | View all blogs by Steve Burbridge

Sawdust and Stardust

The Studio, Live Theatre, Newcastle upon Tyne

Beccy Owen in Sawdust and Stardust, Live Theatre.jpg

Described in the theatre’s season brochure as ‘the story of 30-something Stella in her ultimate quest to make a change and reach the top’ this ‘heartfelt’ one-woman show, performed by Beccy Owen, is a bit of a hotch-potch affair that never quite fulfils the promise it delivers.

I was expecting to see a show that chronicled one woman’s personal journey to self-awareness and discovery, a piece that encouraged its audience to embark upon the said journey with her and leave the theatre pondering all kinds of profound questions about life, its meaning and our part in it. Instead, I left feeling underwhelmed and disappointed.

The decision to stage a production based only upon one performer delivering an extended monologue is an audacious and risky one that, in this case, plummets faster and further than a rock dislodged from a mountain summit.  The writing isn’t good enough, the performance isn’t strong enough and the story isn’t interesting enough.

The only ‘discovery’ that Stella seems to make about herself is that she has developed something of an unhealthy obsession about the woman who is her climbing companion, that borders on lesbianism. An obsession that, like most unhealthy obsessions, ends badly.

The rhetoric that claimed the production would be ‘weaving together a heady mix of quixotic music and imaginative text’ could best be translated as follows: a series of bizarre, jarring, whaling noises punctuating a script that is as flat as a glass of week-old cola.

Staged in Live Theatre’s intimate Studio, the performer and the production should have had the qualities  and abilities to draw the audience into the epicentre of the piece and make them feel part of it. Instead, due to some inadequate staging, I spent much of the duration of the performance looking at the back of Beccy Owen and musing that the white thong that became increasingly visible over the waist of her jeans was hardly a suitable undergarment to wear for mountain climbing.

Never has an hour seemed so long!

Runs until Saturday 22nd January 2011.


1 Comment

  • Steve Burbridge
    by Steve Burbridge 7 years ago
    The following comment was received by e-mail:

    I saw the show, which I absolutely loved. I was mesmerised, and was up that mountain with Stella for the whole hour – the music worked brilliantly and the naturalism in the performance and the gems in the writing have left and indelible mark on me. Therefore I think you are completely off the mark with this review. You are, of course, entitled to your opinion.

    However, the bit that I cannot accept is the following section:

    "The only ‘discovery’ that Stella seems to make about herself is that she has developed something of an unhealthy obsession about the woman who is her climbing companion, that borders on lesbianism. An obsession that, like most unhealthy obsessions, ends badly."

    I’m not particularly over-sensitive to political correctness, but this comment does, I’m afraid, read as sheer homophobia.


    We at UK Theatre Network welcome comments from readers of the site and wholeheartedly support the right to reply. The reviews that we publish offer a reflection of the individual reviewers own personal opinions of the show in question and, by that nature, are often subjective. One man’s meat will always be another man’s poison, as the saying goes.

    I am glad that you enjoyed ‘Sawdust and Stardust’ so much and that Beccy Owen’s performance engaged you so effectively.

    With regard to the specific extract from the review that caused offense, I would like to clarify the following:

    I apologise, unreservedly, if my comments read as homophobic – that was certainly not my intention. In fact the biggest irony is that I am gay myself and have some very close friends who are lesbians. Therefore, I would never condone any form of prejudice against an individual on the basis of their sexuality.

    Secondly, the character of Stella did share with the audience some observations about her climbing companion that indicated a developing infatuation. In my personal opinion, to obsess over a relative stranger to such an extent does seem rather strange and a little ‘unhealthy’.

    Indeed, ‘Sawdust and Stardust’ brought to my mind the 1992 movie ‘Single White Female’ in a number of ways, not least the way one character tries to emulate another character who seems more ‘impressive’, 'successful' or ‘sorted’ than another.

    My point about this infatuation/obsession being unhealthy is, I think, vindicated by the fact that it is Stella who is instrumental, albeit somewhat indirectly, in the death of her climbing companion.

    I hope this response offers greater clarification on my comments.

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