London Fringe: Orbituary — A Play About Change, Stuck in Stasis

By Jay Menard

At the end of Valerie Cotic’s Orbituary, she states, in describing the end of the life cycle of a star, that the remaining gases, elements, and debris, “have the potential for some pretty amazing things.” It’s an apt description of this play, which though parallelling relationships and existential angst about death with the birth and death of a star, finds itself more like a moon — stuck in stasis between opposing gravitational forces.

Cotic opens and closes the play describing herself, using terms like “opinionated” and “emotionally intense,” but unfortunately that fails to shine through the production. The acting is pleasant, but for such weighty material remains superficial.

The plot incorporates three separate, but intertwined, narrative arcs: a scientific discussion about the birth and death of stars; the beginning and dissolution of a relationship; and Cotic’s own existential angst over the concept of death. The three arcs tie up nicely in a bow at the end, but it feels there’s so much more to unwrap.

It’s apt that empty boxes are used for staging throughout because there’s a solid foundation for a deep and moving story, but the guts are missing. In the end we’re presented with a pleasant production that’s entertaining, but not gripping. It presents materials that are familiar and have been presented in other forms — some better, some worse. And it features characters that are either too similar in nature or too much of a stereotype to offer any introspection.

For a first orbit around the sun, the play offers a solid foundation. But there’s the potential for so much more. And, hopefully, after another pass through the solar system, it will return more refined, more reflective, and displaying the amazing things — and the full strength of Cotic’s personality — that’s promised.

*** — Three stars out five

This review originally appeared on theatreinlondon.ca.

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