Review: Gigi Star at Applecart Arts, London

Monday 5th September 2022 at Applecart Arts, London

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Reviewer: Emma Dorfman

*Warning: small spoilers ahead*

The 2010 Tumblr softgirl has grown up and appeared in the form of Gigi Star. This magical, epic narrative, matched by equally magical, epic design, tells the tale of Gigi Star as she arrives at her Saturn’s Return—the point at which Saturn returns to the precise position it was in at her birth.

Throughout the piece, we witness Gigi go through a surrealist quarter-life crisis, alongside Doubt, who acts as both advisor and nuisance along the way. Apart from a few slightly cringeworthy moments on my part, nearly all elements of Gigi Star– performances, music, sound, poetry, scenography, stagecraft, character development, accessibility incorporation- were virtually impeccable. Kit Sinclair and Tom Blake are both Renaissance People in their own right and truly ones to watch.

Before Gigi and Doubt even arrive, I am enamored by Charlotte Ive and Will Alder’s design. Metallic mobiles in the form of constellations, animals, and everyday sound objects (a silver pot, a small wrought iron seahorse, etc.) hang and scatter themselves across the stage. Three glowing, silver moons serve as a backdrop whilst also doubling as a screen for closed captioning. The scattered, ethereal nature of the scenography is the perfect complement to Gigi’s surrealist journey through her own Saturn’s Return: she has a pet mouse, Pippin, for instance, who speaks to her from the front pocket of her dungarees. She has Doubt as a character alongside her the entire time—in one instance, even accompanying her to the pits of hell.

Sinclair, who is also the writer of the piece, has managed to compose a narrative of epic proportions whilst Ive’s direction always keeps the pacing of the action tight and upbeat. In turn, the audience gets notes of magical realism, surrealism, fantasy, and adventure—an amalgamation of genres that works surprisingly well for the stage.

Adding to that collection of genres is the incorporation of music and poetry. Gigi is an aspiring singer, and whilst Sinclair never actually uses her voice to sing, the power of Gigi’s music is implied by muscular poetry, which is supported by Doubt’s (Tom Blake) musical accompaniment. Within these interludes, at a few points, I may have slightly cringed (in one open mic night, Gigi quasi-raps about how her voice will be the one to overthrow Capitalism and other systems of labour oppression, for instance), but this was quickly overshadowed by other, incredible aspects of production.

Gigi Star is one of those rare pieces that reminds you why art and being an artist is so magical. Sinclair and Blake’s crisp, clean performances, Ive’s ethereal set design, Alder’s moody lighting, and Sinclair’s poetic, epic, and muscular text all contribute to the magic and show us why it’s still worth pursuing.

Gigi Star plays at Applecart Arts until September 9th 2022 – you can find more information and tickets here.

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