How To Fail As A Popstar, The Mac Theatre, October 8, 2022

By Conor O’Neill

The 60th Belfast International Arts Festival is well underway and Vivek Shayra’s How To Fail As A Popstar seemed the obvious show to start this month-long gaggle of gigs to start off with.

The MAC’s Upstairs Theatre is close to full capacity and a hushed crowd listen to generic pop as a blackened stage sits with just a microphone, a stool, an acoustic and a coat-stand as the only signs of props or set.

But that’s all that is needed in this one woman show as Shayra tells us of her tales of mall talent shows, good and bad advice, scheming managers, self-help books and promises of ‘you’re going to be bigger than Mika!’.

But, as the title suggests, all does not go according to plan. With touches of self-deprecating wit, unapologetically honesty and more than a little tardiness, Shraya’s tale soon has the audience won over. Through the one hour and 15 minute single act show, she dances around every inch of the stage. We follow her from Edmonton, Alberta in Canada to the bright lights of Toronto and across the pond to Paris where she is finally signed to an obscure French record label.

Evidentally stardom didn’t happen, but now a successful writer and theatrical performer Shraya has found some sort of the acceptance she has pined for since childhood. I wouldn’t call the show the slickest in the world, but what it lacks in theatrical professionalism it makes up for with sincerity and a knowing sense of humour and humanity that’s sure to endear her to many an audience.

For a full list of what’s on in this year’s BIAF visit

For all the shows of the festival to be featured at The MAC visit


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