REVIEW: Gazing at a Distant Star (Assembly George Square Studios) ★★★

Gazing at a Distant Star, written by Sian Rowland made its debut at Greenwich Theatre in January 2017 and gained excellent reviews for the sold out run. The play’s Edinburgh run is at Assembly George Square in a small studio space.

The play follows three characters: Arun, working a soul destroying job in a call centre to save the money to go to university; Anna, a convert to running, in training for her first 5k run; Karen, a single mother coping with her son moving away to college. Through intertwined monologues we learn that all three are coping with the loss of someone in their life; not a death they can grieve but an unexplained disappearance. The story explores what happens to those left behind when people go missing, seeking explanations and wondering what they might have done to see it coming or stop them going.

The cast work well together in the small space, ever present yet separated from each other’s stories with clever use of lighting and movement between desks on the stage. The use of plain white props allows for their use across all three tales before they are all symbolically placed in waste bins as the tales reach their climax.

Harpal Hayer plays Arun, making the best of his tedious job and missing his co-worker Glen who’s not been at work for over a week. His regret when he discovers what has become of Glen is touching. Serin Ibrahim as Anna seems the most formed character, crushed by her sister’s disappearance and seeking answers. We learn a lot about her and her family through her conversations with the unseen Luca and Ibrahim presents a range of emotions before unmasking her guilt. Jenny Delisle as Karen has the most shocking tale to tell yet this feels less affecting, perhaps because her unseen son is less well developed in the build up to the betrayal of his loving mother.

This play addresses important themes, questioning how much we really know about even those closest to us and presenting the complex emotions that come into play when something awful happens to someone close to you.

Reviewed by Rhiannon Evans