Marina Sirtis plays Marianne, a chain-drinking actor who starred in an obscure ITV sci-fi series 30 years ago. When young fan Oli (Kwaku Mills) gets in touch looking to interview her for his website the two become friends and Marianne mulls her strained relationship with best friend Kate (Jacqueline King).
The story is cleverly told, with Ollie and Marianne reminiscing about the show, Ollie remembering the events of every episode, Marianne remembering the polystyrene sets and awkward co-stars. For her it was a daft fantasy which paid the bills, but it got him through his teenage years. And as the two bond, it’s him who ends up counseling her.
This is inter-cut with snippets from the show as ingenious staging from Tim McQuillen Wright allows Marianne’s small flat to transform into a spaceship interior as real life interweaves with fantasy. The series is not as close-a parody of Star Trek as Galaxy Quest, but Sirtis is clearly sending herself up at least to some extent. Like Galaxy Quest it takes a wry if affectionate look at excessive fandom, but incorporates themes of ageing, unrequited love and Marianne’s ongoing quest for approval.
Sirtis plays the dry sarcastic humour well, bouncing off the young, enthusiastic Oli and the equally jaded Kate. It’s strange to see Sirtis talking without Deanna Troi’s accent, but not as strange as it was in Star Trek: Nemesis. It’s great to see her versatility in a completely different role, and it’s a class A performance from the former Betazoid.
With a funny, smartly written script and excellent performances you’ll be sensing a great deal of enjoyment from this sci-fi send up.
Dark Sublime is showing at Trafalgar Studios until 3 August.