Written and Directed By Stephanie Feury and Nathan Keyes
Produced by the Firelight Collective and Hillary Ellison
Off Broadway, Immersive Theatre
Runs through 10.14.18
Various locations in Dumbo, Brooklyn
by Linda Buchwald on 9.24.18
Jennifer Sacks in Stars in the Night. Photo by Matt Pulliam.
BOTTOM LINE: Stars in the Night is a really cool tour of Dumbo, but not so impressive as a piece of theater.
The instructions for finding the starting point of the immersive Stars in the Night involve finding a store in Dumbo and riding a glass elevator like something out of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. Once you ride it, you're rewarded with a gorgeous view. Since you're encouraged to arrive at least 15 minutes before the start of the production, you have time to enjoy it, take photos, post on Instagram, and joke about what you think will happen. This alone would make for a worthwhile night, but it isn't really part of the experience. Eventually an actor, Matt Brown, arrives to check you in and start you on a journey through Dumbo. It doesn't get much better than the view at the beginning, but there are other rewarding sights along the way.
As you are guided through the neighborhood, you encounter various actors. Sometimes they acknowledge the audience (they may speak to, or even touch, you) and sometimes the fourth wall goes up. Brown tells us about a love he once had and lost. All the stories are connected and it's not too difficult to figure out how, which is disappointing if you're hoping for a more challenging mystery. The characters are thinly drawn and the narrative would be nothing special if not for the backdrop. Also, the timelines don't fit together. Not to give too much away, but one scene definitely takes place years after another based on the ages of the characters, yet in both scenes, the modern cell phones indicate they occur around the same time. It's details like this that could have been better thought out by writers Stephen Feury and Nathan Keyes.
Some actors are more convincing than others. Davonna Dehay plays a real estate agent who is both the most peripheral, yet also the most fun. The whole show could have been her enthusiastically taking us to various locations and I wouldn't have complained.
If you think of Stars in the Night more as a tour of Dumbo than a brilliant piece of theater, you won't be disappointed. It could make for a good date night or group activity with people who like immersive experiences and have disposable income. There's also a communal element so that even if you go unaccompanied, you won't feel alone. Only twelve people attend each performance, and before the show, you're encouraged to exchange numbers afterwards (with the emphasis that you don't have to). On the night I attended, everyone gathered on the corner where we were left at the end, talking about the show and what we thought was happening in each scene. And then we all went our separate ways.
(Stars in the Night plays on the streets and in various locations in Dumbo, Brooklyn through October 14, 2018. The running time is 1 hour 40 minutes with no intermission. Performances are Tuesdays through Sundays at 7, 7:30, 8, 8:30, and 9. Tickets are $125; for tickets and more information visit starsinthenight.net.)
Stars in the Night is written and directed by Stephanie Feury and Nathan Keyes. Set and Costume Design by Firelight Collective. Production Stage Manager is Nick Auer.
The cast is Matt Brown, William Nicol, Jennifer Sacks, Hannah Broderick Kraft, Davonna Dehay, Deanna Noe, David Haley, and Allison Byrnes.