Stella is the story of three Northern Irish women who work at a knicker-making factory in the 1960s. On their annual social trip, Stella, Doreen and Jean break off from their group for about an hour, to go get some fresh air and sit on the Giant’s Causeway.
Stella is a show about friendship and the things that bind us together, but also the details that allow us to drift apart. The three girls are all very different in nature, with the overall result that their collective impact is big, and their appeal reaches to a wide audience.
Laura Lonsdale does a great job as Stella, but she is slightly overshadowed by Victoria Holstom’s Doreen. Holstom is fantastic, and in particular her demeanour and accent are on point. The characters go through a growing-up of sorts as secrets are revealed, and the very trust that has kept them friends for such a long time is shaken. A number of issues pertinent in the 1960s are brought up and handled well.
At times, however, the script's many metaphors and euphemisms go too far, becoming dense. There is a fine balance to be struck between avoiding being in-your-face obvious, and allowing the audience to clearly understand what is going on. The script lets the actors down a couple of times on this point.
The ending feels abrupt too; I wasn’t sure if all the loose threads were tied up at the conclusion. A bit more resolution would have worked better for me.
But the strong performances mean it's worth keeping an eye out for more shows from the Less Is MORE company. And as a side note, this production is running at one of the newest venues at the Fringe – which, as well as being very nice, has the most impressive ceiling and chandeliers. So don’t forget to glance up!