Saturday, 21 November 2020

REVIEW: Falling Stars (Online) at the Union Theatre

Falling Stars opens with Peter Polycarpou musing down the camera about an antique shop he wandered into a couple years back. I could tell immediately we were going to be friends. He haggles for the songbook that will eventually score the show, and glimmers of the wit, talent and passion that will define Falling Stars begin to show themselves when the shop owner makes him sing for the best price. As his partner in crime, Sally Ann Triplett, makes her unmissable entrance, these glimmers burst forth into a dazzling song cycle of bygone melodies, that traverse the likes of Charlie Chaplin, Irving Berlin and Meredith Wilson. 

Cosy, is what I felt watching this show. There is something comforting about simply watching talented people be talented, especially when they are equally grateful for being watched. The enthusiasm and expertise the pair have for the music they sing through is infectious, and, you are warmly invited to revel in that excitement with them. Although boasting hugely impressive careers, there is no pretension from Polycarpou or Triplett, which leaves space for a connection that I was amazed to feel through my tv screen. I can only imagine the atmosphere there would be if I had a drink in my hand, under the warmth of the Union Theatre stage lights, with the pair talking to me in person. 

Although there is no pretension, the talent on stage is unmistakable. You are aware that the duo are playing themselves, as they comfortably banter their way through the history of the music. As soon as you relax into the next melody however, you are transported to the world that the song exists in, whether that’s one of unrequited lovers, homesick soldiers or Greek shopkeepers. The transition is effortless and spans the range of emotions, which is overwhelmingly impressive. Mark Dickman, the musical director, and his lone piano is also hugely worthy of this praise, as the score holds its own supporting these powerhouse voices, and creating a space for this curious cast of characters to interact in.

These transitions between songs suffer a little as the editing, and therefore the narrative, becomes disjointed as the show progresses. This is likely due to the fact that the film was put together in 3 days as lockdown 2 loomed, but it is something to keep in mind if you opt for the online experience. Nevertheless, the brief interruptions allow for some wonderful costume changes, so if Sally Ann Triplett would like to tell me where that white suit is from it would be much appreciated. 

That all being said, Falling Stars was exactly what I needed during such uncertain times. It was inviting, it was comforting and it was fun. Please do allow yourself a cosy night in with Peter and Sally when the show is streamed between the 22nd and 29th of November, or a ‘roaring’ night out when it returns to the Union Theatre on the 9th and 10th of January 2021. 

Review by Anna Smith 

Rating: ★★★★
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