Dark Sublime

by Michael Dennis

11th to 13th April 2024 | Broadbent Theatre, Wickenby

It was a bold decision for us to stage an unknown play about bad sci-fi and navigating love and friendship in the LGBTQ+ community – but we’re glad we did, because Dark Sublime was one of our best and most memorable productions.

Director Vicky Ashberry first saw Dark Sublime in London in 2019, chiefly because she’s a fan of Star Trek: The Next Generation, and the lead role of Marianne was being played in this world premiere by Marina Sirtis, aka Counsellor Deanna Troi.

Dark Sublime is the title of the 1980s TV sci-fi series in which the lead character Marianne starred many years ago; nowadays her star is on the wane, but she’s reminded of her days as the villainous Ragana when she meets Oli, a young fan who’s as lost in unrequited love as she is.

The play gave us some great roles for older women and the chance to show off some fantastic sound and lighting effects as the action switched from the present day to action scenes from the TV series.

As is often the case with Common Ground, we welcomed a number of new faces: four of the six actors cast in Dark Sublime were completely new to our group, including James Ross playing the rakish Bob (Vykar in the TV show), the ship’s computer played by John Edmondson, Suzanne played by Jemma De Ath, and newcomer Bianca Hutchings, who pulled off the difficult trick of playing the young Oli with panache.

Sadly we didn’t attract large audiences, but those who supported us seemed to enjoy the show, and we got some very good reviews!

* * * * *

“I was a little bit sceptical reading the highlights and the sci-fi element of this play before heading out to Wickenby last night in the dark to see the opening night of Dark Sublime at the Broadbent Theatre, but I needn’t have worried. The play was moving, funny, dramatic and had quite a bit of humour.

“It was fabulous to see one of our previous CAODS actors Pamela Marnie (most recently Sweeney Todd), plus some other friends that many will remember from the Jesus Christ Superstar days in 2015 and a number of other great actors come together to bring such a story to life. Not so much sci-fi but a rare personal drama about an older gay woman trying to find her place and identity in a changing world, with plenty of laughs – particularly aimed at the world of showbiz – and some interesting questions about the nature of ‘fandom’.

“Pamela Marnie was brilliant, and I take my ‘Sweeney wig’ off to her for remembering all those lines while drinking so much alcohol (or hopefully not alcohol) on stage! It was lovely to also see Jemma De Ath and Anita Quigley. In fact the whole cast was brilliant, despite Vykar making me jump coming through the side door!” – Eira Hammond

* * * * *

“I was there as an audience member last night!  WOW!… Love… love… loved – Dark Sublime.  Outstanding performance by all the cast.  ‘Performance’ undersells each and every one playing their ‘believable’ character; they didn’t ‘perform’, they were their character! 

“This beautiful theatre so deserves to be supported.  It’s like a tardis.  The exterior in no way reflects the interior – a quaint, beautiful, real theatre when you first step inside!  

 “I absolutely loved the play. I don’t know what I expected but it wasn’t that! It was so well performed and executed by everyone on stage!” – Sam

* * * * *

“This show is absolutely amazing!”

“An excellent performance”

“Fantastic show – don’t miss out!”

“The show was absolutely fabulous last night and I can’t wait to see it again. The cast is incredible.”

Kate / President

Anita Quigley

Marianne / Ragana

Pamela Marnie

Vykar / Bob

James Ross

John Edmondson

Oli / Vol

Bianca Hutchings

Suzanne / Jaylin

Jemma De Ath
Director Vicky Ashberry
Wardrobe Vicky Ashberry
Lighting Patrick Markham
Stage Manager Jez Ashberry
Sound effects Vicky Ashberry
Set & properties Vicky Ashberry, Su Toogood
Programme & publicity Jez Ashberry
Stage crew Su Toogood, Carolyn Jones
Photography Headshot Toby