Where do all the orgasms go? And how can you be sure you’ve ever had one?
These are the philosophical questions that play on Mrs’ mind as she reflects on what she’s had in life and what she wants from it before the sun sets. STARS is described as an Afrofuturist space odyssey and incorporates a range of audio-visual media into the performance.
A moving mix of celebratory Black queer empowerment, it is an experience that arouses consciousness and demands attention.
Written by Mojisola Adebayo and with Debra Michaels as Mrs, STARS is largely a one-woman-show. The lights dim and a late hours DJ (Bradley Charles) sets the mood with some laid-back vibes. We see Mrs respond to the radio conversationally and occasional breaks of the fourth wall – you’re never sure if Mrs is talking to the audience or to herself as she potters around on stage.
Right from the start, we join her on a quest.
Mrs has never had one. She’s never felt the mind-blowing, earth shattering, lift off experience that she knows an orgasm can be. And she wants one.
Looking to the heavens and fuelled by a belief of higher forces, Mrs believes space is where the magic really happens. Up there among the stars, weightless and free. She draws parallels between elements of space and the people on the street outside her window, a community she watches from afar but isn’t part of.
She seeks help to find her big O. But the Dr is not very helpful or sympathetic to her plight, and her application to participate in Spexit – a government relocation programme – is unsuccessful. Will it ever happen? Can she ever experience the rush of satisfaction?
As she recounts interactions with others, this production comes into its own. On the surface it’s a humorous show about a woman discovering her sexuality but there is a lot more depth to the layers as they unpeel.
Adebayo has managed to weave African folklore into modern realities and brings in some heavy topics sensitively. As the play progresses, you realise you’re watching the history of what it means to be female globally being played out with some uncomfortable truths airing.
As well as this, there are underlying themes of loneliness, the finiteness of time, loss and of self-acceptance in all its forms.
Michaels becomes a range of periphery characters during the performance. Through vocal switches and manipulated mannerisms, she patches together a narrative draws the audience in to Mrs and her moments.
It is a compelling watch. You’ll leave thinking about both the key themes and the all-important question, where do all the orgasms go?
Age guidance 14+ with an accompanying adult – themes of sexuality, sexual violence/FGM, still birth and conversion therapy.
Reviewer: Ezzy LaBelle
Reviewed: 22th June 2023
North West End UK Rating: