Edinburgh Fringe 2022
An autobiographical piece performed by Lori Hamilton from the United States, this is the story of overcoming her encounters with the voice inside her head. Constantly told she’s not good enough, Hamilton’s retelling takes the form of dialogue, song and occasionally – the voice of a guardian angel that sits on her shoulder.
Lori was affectionately known by her mother as ‘the child that ruined her life’. As the eldest of 6 children, and – as Lori admits – the only child to be really neglected and emotionally abused by her mother – Lori’s story is surprisingly inspiring, occasionally funny, and often heart-warming. From childhood, to adulthood, and finally being able to shut down the no-good voice of negativity, we travel with Lori from being sent to her room with only bread and water, to enduring time as an underpaid and overworked employee, to finally achieving success at Julliard, all within 60 minutes.
Lori – a gifted singer in her own right – used a combination of words and song to introduce her tale. Despite being beautifully performed, several of the songs felt misplaced and halted the momentum of the dialogue. While the one piece the complimented the journey and acted as a segue, the others didn’t serve the story. This was a shame, because the story itself felt rushed in parts and could have done with more exploration – particularly the relatable segments dealing with exploitation from her employer as well as her time spent completing her study.
While performing her dialogue – including multiple characters – Hamilton was strong, engaging, and empathetic. Never playing the victim, she held her audience well and presented herself as courage and strong, as well as vulnerable.
Using suitcases to transition from scene to scene was clever, although almost distracting. Lori managed to save the distraction with choreographed placement and by minimising any other props or furniture.
Subtle sound and lighting assisted with the transition between locations, and time and characters.
While North Star was heartfelt, uplifting, and enjoyable at times, the performance requires stronger refocusing and could benefit from being reworked after this Edinburgh season. Either a story with song, or a musical performance with dialogue – the show struggles to define itself in its current form, which was described as ‘musical theatre’.
What does shine through, is the dedication and commitment Lori has towards Mental Health issues, education, and her quest to help others. Her website – https://northstar-theshow.com/– is filled with resources that complement the show perfectly, and her passion for her work can only enhance her future work.