City Guide to Edinburgh, Scotland

City Guide to Edinburgh, Scotland

Ballad of the Burning Star Review

By Kenneth Scott - Posted on 13 August 2013

Ballad of the Burning Star - a scene
Show details
Pleasance Dome
Theatre Ad Infinitum
Running time: 
Nir Paldi (writer / director), George Mann (producer / associate director), Mike Tweedle, Avye Leventis, Omar Elerian (dramaturge), Francesco Gorni (set designer), Serena Montesissa (costume designer), Peter Harrison (lighting designer), Nathalie K Marsland and Orian Michaeli (choreographers), Adam Pleeth (musical director / composer), Tess Dignan (vocal coach), Liran Fisher (researcher).
Nir Paldi (Star / Israel), Amy Nostbakken (Grandmother Evon / Merciless Miriam), Orian Michaeli (Gidon / Rebellious Rebecca), Deborah Pugh (Ora / Ruthless Rachel), Seiko Nakazawa (Eithan / Palestinian Boy / Heartless Hannah), Stefanie Sourial (Humi the Dog, Nehama / Lethal Lea), Adam Pleeth (musician / Camp David).

Welcome to Israel, a land of endless sun, orange groves, bullets and bombs.

Nothing is straightforward or as it appears on the surface; there are always deeper layers, histories, defining moments, contradictions. And so it is with Star, our post-modern drag queen host who will guide us on this musical trip through the life of a boy named Israel, growing up in a settlement surrounded by Palestinian villages.

In gold lamé and with the bangs of a silent era movie actress she introduces her weapons of mass destruction, The Starlets - a precision, militaristic, high kicking, chorus line and dance troop.

They will be pulled, pushed, challenged and bullied by our diva in the telling of this multi-layered semi-autobiography. Lurking in the background, and to some extent driving the action, is the underlying tale of the leader of another troop on one fateful day.

The drama unfolds throughout a series of songs, both comic and operatic, with the individual cast members also breaking out to enact elements suggesting the reality of living in a war zone, the sheer oppressive weight of history and almost institutionalised hatred and dehumanisation.

As the internal conflicts become more apparent so do fractures start to appear between the characters on stage and as the grinding pace falters we are left to contemplate a clearer picture of Israel - boy, man and state.

While camp "tranimal" cabaret seems like an unlikely vessel for the journey it's an inspired choice and by the end it seems inconceivable that any other form could have conveyed the story. The style may be a little jarring but the underlying structure is impeccably built, supported by beautifully directed and delivered performances.

One to burn brightly in the memory.

Show times

31 July - 26 August (not 13 or 20), 5.15pm.

Ticket prices

£11 (£8.50) to £13 (£12).