Presented by the Contact Theatre, STARS is a multimedia Odyssey that takes you through being Black, being a woman, and being a Black Woman and lands you amongst the stars.  

Credit: Ali Wright

STARS: An Afrofuturist Space Odyssey by Mojisola Adebayo is produced by Tamasha and the Institute of Contemporary Art. It is directed by Gail Babb and S. Ama Wray, and stars Debra Michaels as Mrs and Bradley Charles as her son, DJ Michael Manners. 

The tagline of STARS is that it is about an older woman who “goes into outer space in search of her own orgasm”. I don’t know about you, but I’m sold already. It’s a comedy, and it could only ever be a comedy, but it’s truly so much more than that. It weaves in discussions of FGM, fertility issues, sexual assault, and conversion therapy in a way that feels completely natural and ordinary – a fact of life for Mrs and the women and girls around her. 

Debra Michaels as Mrs leads what is almost a one-woman show with passion – she has charm and charisma to spare. Her son (Bradley Charles) mostly sits up in his DJ booth and introduces new songs as they play on his radio show, only coming down from his tower to visit his mum for Christmas. Michaels is an endlessly magnetic performer who leads Adebayo’s incredible script with expertise. Mrs’s passion for sci-fi and hints of agoraphobia are perfectly portrayed by Michaels – and her quips and one-liners about female pleasure are genuinely laugh-out-loud funny. 

Making a play accessible is something which is often done quite clunkily – I’ve seen plays where the ‘captioning’ has been a PowerPoint of the script presented on a rolling television at the corner of the stage. Stars, however, integrates its captioning with the animations to form one connected display on a screen behind the actors. Designer Miriam Nabarro’s beautiful tilted stage is complemented by Candice Purwin’s animations and Stephen Lloyd’s creative captioning to create a spectacle that simply shines. 

STARS will continue its tour through to the Bristol Old Vic theatre, the Old Rep in Birmingham, Northern Stage in Newcastle and the Liverpool Everyman. I cannot recommend this show highly enough. 

Rating: 5 out of 5.

STARS: An Afrofuturist Space Odyssey is on at Contact Manchester until 11th of May and then continues on its tour!

{🎟 AD – PR invite – Tickets were gifted in exchange for an honest review}

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