Tag Archives: Sophie Ward

Dark Sublime

Trafalgar Studios

Dark Sublime


Dark Sublime

Trafalgar Studios

Reviewed – 28th June 2019



“as the story unfolds, the main thread becomes a little tangled and indefinite”


There is a touch of Michael Keaton’s ‘Birdman’ as Marina Sirtis, best known for her role as Deanna Troi in ‘Star Trek’, takes to the stage to play a hard-working actress who, years on, can’t seem to shake the shadow of her biggest role. 

An eager twenty one year-old fan (Kwaku Mills) turns up at the door of a jaded, middle-aged actress (Sirtis) to interview her about a cult sci-fi programme that she starred in decades before, and they strike up an unlikely friendship.

The main narrative is spliced with scenes from an unaired episode of ‘Dark Sublime’. Living room furniture doubles up as hammy spaceship tech as Simon Thorp darts about, speaking to his chatty computer (Mark Gatiss) via his wrist with great urgency. The switch between ordinary life and sci-fi sets us up for a fun paralleling of plotlines – presumably ‘reality’ will eventually dovetail with ‘fantasy.’
However, as the story unfolds, the main thread becomes a little tangled and indefinite, combining multiple subplots of unrequited love, professional frustration, generational differences, as well as the tie between the LGBTQ community and sci-fi. It’s a bit much to have all of this going on simultaneously.

Writer Michael Dennis was clearly trying to interlace plot points as much as possible, but it thins out the audience’s focus. Marianne’s unrequited love of her best friend Kate (Jacqueline King), for example, partially overshadows the crux of the story, and gives cause for an ill-fitting scene of somewhat cloying sentiment between Kate and her girlfriend Suzanne (Sophie Ward). This scene then gives way to another snippet of ‘Dark Sublime’, but the clash of genre is now slightly bizarre and distracting.

Similarly, the effective use of living room furniture as futuristic hi-tech is diluted when the living room also doubles up as a hotel conference or a park, with no prop changes beside the TV screen showing either a picture of Alexandra Palace or a conference logo (Tim McQuillen-Wright).

Andrew Keates’ direction places a particular emphasis on Oli’s initial draw to ‘Dark Sublime’ as a gay teenager in a small town looking for a necessary escape: the few times it’s mentioned, Oli is bathed in red light (Neil Brinkworth) and stands to deliver a short but dramatic homily. But there isn’t that much stress on this particular point within the script, so it seems a little out of sync.

Whilst there are a few quippy lines, there is often a sense that you have to be ‘in’ on the joke, which, I presume, I wasn’t. On the whole, Keates and Dennis have been overly ambitious and tried to squeeze far too much in. There are a lot of interesting aspects touched upon – the idea of fandom in relation to an actor’s reality for example, or the tie between the LGBTQ community and sci-fi – but I think they would be best served if they didn’t have to fight so much for focus and stage time.


Reviewed by Miriam Sallon

Photography by Scott Rylander


Dark Sublime

Trafalgar Studios until 3rd August


Last ten shows reviewed at this venue:
Dust | ★★★★★ | September 2018
A Guide for the Homesick | ★★★ | October 2018
Hot Gay Time Machine | ★★★★★ | November 2018
Coming Clean | ★★★★ | January 2019
Black Is The Color Of My Voice | ★★★ | February 2019
Soul Sessions | ★★★★ | February 2019
A Hundred Words For Snow | ★★★★★ | March 2019
Admissions | ★★★ | March 2019
Scary Bikers | ★★★★ | April 2019
Vincent River | ★★★★ | May 2019


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But it Still Goes on – 4 Stars


But it Still Goes on

Finborough Theatre

Reviewed – 13th July 2018


“the problems in the script are predominantly carried by a strong, committed cast.”


Tableaux of war open the world premier of Robert Graves’ 1929 play, ‘But It Still Goes On’. This is a “post-catastrophic comedy” that mixes farce with tragedy and discusses post war disillusionment, creative jealousy and repressed homosexuality, amidst a tangled web of lovers and a gun that follows them all through the play.

The cast is strong across the board. Alan Cox is sharply witty, wicked and playful as Dick, stuck in the shadow of his blundering father’s (Jack Claff) literary achievements. The character is written a little too flippantly, making it more difficult to engage with Dick on an emotional level but to Caves’ credit he still carries the performance.

The most affecting scene of the play, is the beautiful moment between David and Charlotte, played movingly, respectively by Victor Gardener and Sophie Ward, as both confess, with a quiet resignation, their repressed sexualities and make plans to “normalise” themselves through marriage. It is a deeply sad indictment of the times and their fates are equally tragic, the product of a homophobic society and the necessity to conform.

There is a tendency towards melodrama, particularly in the latter portion of the play, again a product of the writing rather than the acting. The lurking figure of war feels unnecessarily symbolic, given that the text discusses this at such length, and it is a sometime jarring addition to an overly busy stage.

The set is uninspiring, a white marquee edging the stage which is punctuated by clumsy and bland pieces of furniture. The costumes, on the other hand, are beautifully put together, eveningwear and tennis outfits alike, showcasing costume designer Lindsay Hill’s clear eye for detail and quality.

An entertaining evening that discusses sexuality and post-war feeling in time for the centenary of the First World War, the problems in the script are predominantly carried by a strong, committed cast.

Reviewed by Amelia Brown

Photography by Scott Rylander


But it Still Goes on

Finborough Theatre until 4th August



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