The performers bring a great deal of energy to the show. Laurel Mitchell, as both Uranus and Mars, gives stand-out performances and shows immense range. As Uranus, she plays a stand-up comedian who is sick of being “the butt of everyone’s jokes”, and as Mars she plays a hypochondriac afraid of human infestation. I also want to give special mention to how well she handles her Mars performance, despite an audience member experiencing an epileptic seizure during her monologue. (I should note, I have spoken with one of the creators of the show, and a crew member checked in with the audience member and their accompanying person, and they did not want to stop the performance. The show does not include any flashing lights, and the audience member had recovered by the end.)
Venus (El Yule) grabs the audience with their sultry energy and I-don’t-give-a-fuck attitude, calling out their objectification, and Sun (Nick Erasmuson AKA Eva Goodcoq) also shines (pun intended) in a vibrant and charismatic closing musical number. Yule also plays a broken-hearted Neptune, which, while not as memorable as their Venus performance, offers us a diversity of tone. Q Walker’s Jupiter, a stretched parent with too many moons, is delightful, and while I find myself cringing at their youthful, personality-quiz-taking characterisation of Saturn, their second performance is also well done. Annica Lewis’s performances as Mercury and Moon are enjoyable but somewhat blurry, and could use some defining between the characters, while Lilli Margaret gives us two thoughtful but tentative performances as Earth and Pluto, and might benefit from some more self-assurance.
I must admit that the nerd in me would have liked each of the planets to be represented by their classical archetypes. We see a little of this with Venus, but Mitchell offers us an anxious Mars, which is a far cry from any kind of god of war. Maybe this is the point – there is a lot of discussion around the hubris of people picking names for planets – but it feels like a missed opportunity.
The show is light and witty but at times leans heavily on gags about “Uranus” and “gas giants”, which are fun at first, but begin to feel a little cheap and tired the more they are used. There are other things that cheapen the show; I am not sold on the director's decision to include movement sequences between the monologues, as they are awkward and give the show a slight aura of high-school physical theatre. But largely the show is funny and reflective, with characters who bring astronomical energy to the stage.
Celestial Nobodies is showing at BATS theatre until Saturday 13 August at 7:30pm. Tickets are still available, and you can book them for yourself right here.
Author’s note: Playwright, composer, and co-producer Evangelina Telfar is on the Art Murmurs team, and Lilli Margaret is a fellow reviewer. I have tried my best to give an honest review, but if you find any bias, please feel free to leave a comment or send us your thoughts at firstname.lastname@example.org.