The Starry Messenger - Review
Updated: Sep 28, 2019
The Starry Messenger is about an astrology teacher in his 50s who is bored with his life and aspires to be an astrologist. He gets the chance to apply for what is essentially an entry level position on an exciting project that he wants to be involved in but not sure he can afford to take the associated pay cut. During the play he meets a single mother and starts an affair with her.
When you see a play advertised with a starry cast you head in with high expectations as we did heading into The Starry Messenger, but it fell short. But in the spirit of positivity I’ll start with the good things. The acting was generally good. The two female leads in particular were excellent. Elizabeth McGovern plays the slightly irritating nagging wife in a departure from her Downton character. Unfortunately her part is thinly drawn but she does well with the material available. Rosalind Eleazar plays Angela, the single mother training to be a nurse tying to provide a better life for her and her child. She plays the role with sensitivity and vulnerability and you want more time to be given learning her story.
The set is well done. There are four rooms people are in and three of these are on a revolve in the centre of the stage, which would make scene changes simple (yet the director makes these changes lethargic).
Unfortunately the play was let down by Matthew Broderick as the lead. The character is bored but that does not mean he has to be the most boring monotone character you can imagine. He managed to make the character devoid of any charisma. There a couple of times where there are flashes of potentially uncovering the character but they don’t last long. This make the affair he has unbelievable as there is no chemistry between the characters so the relationship seems like a bored couple rather than a passionate affair they can’t control. Part of this is the script. He kisses her randomly with no build up (honestly I expected her to slap him) and without any passion or desire.
Then there’s the subplot. I didn’t mention it in the synopsis because frankly I’m not sure why it’s there. Maybe they had an idea and couldn’t be bothered to make it a full play so added it to this one. The play moves very slowly and these scenes are just filler that suspend the plot you’re trying to focus on.
Finally the direction. As I said the play moves slowly and the main character is made to play the whole time in monotone. They make the scene changes take much longer than you’d anticipate (thankfully there aren’t many). With a long indulgent script you’d want to keep the pace going yet even the curtain call took too long to start.
It’s not terrible but it could be a lot better and we left disappointed and there are better ways to spend an evening out. This show gets 2 Laura Michelle-Kelly’s.