at Trafalgar Studios, London
“It was almost brilliant, almost great fun, almost very touching”
Imagine a classic television programme from the 1970s involving space, heroes, arch-villains and ridiculous quests. Do Doctor Who, Blake’s Seven and The Tomorrow People come to mind? Remember the earnest acting, wobbly sets and dodgy dialogue? And don’t forget the aliens… Welcome to Dark Sublime. A show that was of this genre - now cut to today. The star of the show is a hard-drinking, jobbing actress, trying to make ends meet and full of more than her fair share of bitterness. This is Marianne - played by Marina Sirtis, in reality famed for her role in Star Trek: The Next Generation and one does wonder where the similarities cease…
[ Marina Sirtis as Marianne ]
Enter Oli, an overly-camp and needy nerd played by Kwaku Mills. He was, of course, not even born when the show first aired, but has immersed himself into it, launched a website, sought out the cast and crew and is organising a weekend in Walsall for fans to gather.
[ Kwaku Mills as Oli ]
Michael Dennis has written a comedy about this blending of the real and fictional worlds we all have within us. Our hopes and dreams crashing against what can be harsh reality. Years pass by, we get old, but we don’t want to let our innocent youth go. Unfortunately, his storytelling is a little too slow. Dark Sublime is on the long side - a good thirty minutes could be trimmed. There is too much repetition and not enough pace. When the play is funny - boy is it funny! Simon Thorp steals the show with his many superb, earnest interruptions as Vykar (assisted by the voice of Mark Gatiss).
[ Simon Thorp as Vykar ]
But the story wanders into a few territories, unsure which one it wishes to concentrate on. Is it love and friendship? Brought out by Jacqueline King’s genuine portrayal of Kate, Marianne’s best friend of many years, who is introducing her new lover Suzanne, played by Sophie Ward. In the flurry of it all, I think the part of Suzanne gets a little lost in the chaos.
[ Jacqueline King as Kate and Sophie Ward as Suzanne ]
Andrew Keates has directed a wonderful piece that doesn’t quite know whether it’s going for emotional realism or escapist homage. The two styles don’t quite sit happily together. People who can recollect the 1970s will probably recall the film Galaxy Quest that managed to do this.
Dark Sublime is an almost-evening. It was almost brilliant, almost great fun, almost very touching. The set design, though, in such a small space, is sublime.
Photographer Scott Ryland
Director Andrew Keates
Producer Rigmarole Productions
Designer Tim McQuillen-Wright
Composer Matthew Strachan
Performances Until 3rd August - Monday to Saturday at 7.45pm
Matinees: Thursday and Saturday at 3pm
Venue Trafalgar Studios, 14 Whitehall, London SW1A 2DY
Nearest Tube Charing Cross Station (Bakerloo and Northern lines)
Tickets Box Office 0844 871 7632 or online at
Price £25 - £35
Running Time 2 hours 40 (including an interval)
Twitter @DarkSublimePlay, @TrafStudios