Review: PM Theater’s Touring Production of A Star Without a Name Explores Love and Happiness

“The world is full of pain as is. Instead, let’s talk about love!”

PM Theater’s administrative producer Anna Bredikhina kicks off the top of the show with this sentiment. After the last few years of a pandemic filled with so much pain and loss, Bredikhina explains that this play came out of a desire to explore something different. We have forgotten how to love, and perhaps this story and these characters can help us learn again. Full of color and liveliness, A Star Without a Name certainly does just that—offers an invitation for us as an audience to reflect and consider how we want to move forward. How do we find the courage to love, and what are we willing to sacrifice for happiness? Unfortunately the quality of the production does not always support the company's mission.

Stephen Ochsner and Sergey Nagorny in PM Theater's Production of A STAR WITHOUT A NAME Photo Credit: Olga Peregudov
Stephen Ochsner and Sergey Nagorny. Photo by Olga Peregudov.

Written by Mihail Sebastian, translated by Ilya Eckstein, and directed by Gera Sandler, A Star Without a Name takes place in a small town in the Romanian countryside. By chance, an express train makes a stop in this small town—leaving behind Mona (Anya Zicer), a young woman looking for a chance at a different life. Upon meeting Mona, Teacher (Stephen Ochsner) is absolutely smitten. Suddenly, this man who was previously content living in his books and love of astrology wonders if he too desires something different—a life with the love of his life. As Mona and Teacher consider the possibilities of a life together, they are forced to consider if their love will be enough for the relationship to survive.

The design team fills the space with joy and energy. Costume designer Luna Gomberg dresses the ensemble in bright colors, and costumes that are just other-worldly enough to suggest that we are not quite in a town on this Earth. Set designer Jenya Shekhter brings that color into her designs, filling the space with small replicas of buildings referenced in the play. The team creates the illusion that we are in a storybook, and invites the audience into this world of possibilities as we wonder what might happen next.

Stephen Ochsner in PM Theater's Production of A STAR WITHOUT A NAME Photo Credit: Olga Peregudov
Stephen Ochsner. Photo bt Olga Peregudov.

As with any new play, there are challenges as the artists iron out the nuances. Director Gera Sandler’s ensemble clearly tries to answer the call for love and joy, filling the piece with high energy from start to finish. But A Star Without a Name is not a polished production, even though many of the pieces are in place. With time, we can foresee the play will continue to grow into what PM Theater wants to present to its audiences.

A Star Without a Name was performed April 6 and 7 at the Chopin Theatre, 1543 W. Division St. Running time was 2 hours, without intermission. Check out PM Theater’s website for upcoming performances on their tour of this production.

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Lauren Katz