#17 Startdust

Theatre ( New Writing, Physical Theatre, Multi-media, Public Service ) 10 Dome, Pleasance Dome

A great intervention, an exposé, a personal documentary about the cocaine trade from Colombia, the politics and business of it and the effect on the people caught in the wake. The social stigma that follows Colombians around the world.

An all-in-one show with a brief history lesson, a game show, an ancient ritual, an augmented reality display, and more. All in the service of illustrating how the humble coca plants of Colombian communities of yore turned into a global cocaine industry worth billions. An origin story from Latin America, with mythos and hard reality in equal measure.

Our host is Colombian artist Miguel Hernando Torres Umba, who has, like many Colombians, a personal connection. Torres Umba's zeal truly elevates the public service. Great, visceral physicality as he wears many hats from game show host to shaman channelling ancient spirits around the virtual camp fire. Powerful gesture and dance of fleeting fever dreams, of drowning in the stuff, of trying to wash away the stigma — of being all watched over by the spirit of the ancients.

Stardust is a refined show, with a full team from Blackboard Theatre making it happen. The pacing is a little off at times, and some of the show slips a bit far off the mark, but mostly it rolls on nicely. The team is conscious of exposition, but at the same time some of the visualisation feels a bit thin. Emphasis on ancient community coca use feels perhaps a little misplaced.

Gamification works nicely with Torres Umba's good eye for audience members game enough to make it work. It all feels a bit busy, but our host somehow triumphs. The show could easily have slipped into corny territory without him.

Brilliant visuals with the cocaine rain. Physicality is winning, if a little gratuitous and misplaced a couple times. OK use of multimedia projections, a bit of voiceover. Reading the letter was OK, but felt superfluous and low bandwidth.

Distinct lack of solutions is fitting, if depressing, and owning up to it is subversive indeed. But the climax was still anti.

A think piece for a Fringe afternoon.