Nicola Wren displays exactly how to avoid seeking stardom through having a famous family member whilst simultaneously relying on that fact completely. Despite preaching about the importance of forging your own path in life when faced with a famous family member, Nicola Wren cannot but help write a show based entirely on her family. Her whole life summed up on a clothes rail full of past costumes, Wren takes us through her route to becoming a supposed ‘‘superstar’’.
The younger sister of Coldplay frontman Chris Martin reminisces to the audience her playing of ‘‘3rd rabbit’’ in the local panto and the ‘‘one-eyed prostitute’’ in a ‘‘major motion picture’’. Her passion for each role is more than matched by her need for her family to be sat in the front row. Superstar is clearly a break-through moment for her; she has recreated the front row – usually occupied by her family – so it sits sorrowfully empty, complete with void ‘Reserved VIP’ signs. No, you will not find Chris Martin in the audience.
Wren, who has deliberately distanced herself from Martin by changing her name, succeeds in spreading a positive message of self-acceptance and forging your own path. This is aided by her wonderful capacity to laugh at herself. Of course, Wren could not have written and performed such a show so successfully had her brother not been Chris Martin. This leaves the audience with a conundrum which ultimately (though only just) swings in Wren’s favour.
She works on the principle that one must ‘‘write what they know’’ – this autobiographical piece of theatre certainly evidences that. Her bid to distance herself from her family by performing a play entirely focused on them seems strange. But then from her perspective, it had to be done; she has written what she knows. The sell-out audience, who she endears on numerous occasions, also suggests that she did this very well.
On the surface, this is a wonderful show, managing equal measures of fun and profundity. It is only when you get home that you begin to doubt the show’s message. You might come to this show to see Nicola Wren, although on reflection you will wonder whether you actually saw Chris Martin’s younger sister by mistake. The question now is whether this clearly talented writer and performer can leave behind Chris, and other siblings Al, Rosanna and Rich, once and for all.
Superstar is on at Underbelly Cowgate (Venue 61)
On 1st-25th August (not 12th) at 17:30
Tickets available here
Image: Hannah Knox