Skip to main content

Blackbird

Tron Theatre, Glasgow
4 stars
You could hear a pin drop on the opening night of Katie Posner's
touring revival of David Harrower's blistering psycho-sexual
pas-de-deux. The fact that the bulk of the audience for this
co-production between Pilot Theatre and York Theatre Royal were in
their teens speaks volumes about exactly how much they can take in
terms of a thoroughly adult play that neither patronises or exploits
them. Instead, Harrower lays bare some of society's greatest taboos
through the eyes of one life-changing event's survivors.

First seen at the 2005 Edinburgh International Festival, this new,
studio size production is made all the more provocative by the close
proximity of its protagonists, Ray and Una. Caught off-guard in the
mess of his strip-lit work-place, fifty-something Ray attempts to keep
a proper distance from the brittle, tomboyish woman on a mission he had
a whirlwind affair with fifteen years earlier, when she was twelve.
With both parties desperate for some kind of closure, an emotional
mish-mash of love and anger erupts into dangerous, all-consuming life
once more.

It's hard to go wrong with such powerfully engaging writing, and there
are some frantically contrasting moments between George Costigan and
Charlie Covell, sparring throughout the play's relentless seventy-five
minutes. When the pair kick over all the gathered tea-break detritus,
it seems to signal some kind of long-suppressed, child-like liberation.
Yet when the building's lights go out, Una's sense of renewed
abandonment is painfully palpable. As Ray and Una go round and round in
increasingly urgent, self-lacerating circles, some kind of fractured
reconciliation seems likely in a troublingly honest affair which only
the grown-ups dare walk out of.

The Herald, November 17th 2011

ends

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

The Maids

Dundee Rep

Two sisters sit in glass cases either side of the stage at the start of Eve Jamieson's production of Jean Genet's nasty little study of warped aspiration and abuse of power. Bathed in red light, the women look like artefacts in some cheap thrill waxworks horror-show, or else exhibits in a human zoo. Either way, they are both trapped, immortalised in a freak-show possibly of their own making.

Once the sisters come to life and drape themselves in the sumptuous bedroom of their absent mistress, they raid her bulging wardrobe to try on otherwise untouchable glad-rags and jewellery. As they do, the grotesque parody of the high-life they aspire to turns uglier by the second. When the Mistress returns, as played with daring abandon by Emily Winter as a glamour-chasing narcissist who gets her kicks from drooling over the criminal classes, you can't really blame the sisters for their fantasy of killing her.

Slabs of sound slice the air to punctuate each scene of Mart…

Phoebe Waller-Bridge - Fleabag

Phoebe Waller-Bridge is a busy woman. The thirty-two year old actress who burst onto our TV screens as writer and star of Fleabag, the tragi-comic sort of sit-com about a supposedly independent woman on the verge is currently overseeing Killing Eve, her new TV drama which she's written for BBC America. As an actress, Waller-Bridge is also filming a big screen project which we can't talk about, but which has already been outed as being part of the ongoing Star Wars franchise.

These are both pretty good reasons why Waller-Bridge won't be appearing in the brief Edinburgh Festival Fringe revival of the original stage play of Fleabag, when it opens next week at the Underbelly, where it was first unleashed to the world in 2013. In her place, Maddie Rice will take on the role of the potty-mouthed anti-heroine after touring Vickie Jones' production for Waller-Bridge and Jones' DryWrite company in association with Soho Theatre. This doesn't mean Waller-Bridge has turned…

The Divide

King's Theatre
Four stars

Everything is black and white in Alan Ayckbourn's new play, a six hour two part epic set in a dystopian future where men and women are segregated from each other following the aftermath of an unspecified plague. Into this landscape, the secret diaries of brother and sister Elihu and Soween are brought to life by Jake Davies and Erin Doherty with a wide-eyed lightness of touch as their hormones get the better of them when they both hit puberty.
Annabel Bolton's production for the Old Vic, EIF and Karl Sydow begins with a TED Talk type lecture that reveals the back story to how things turned out this way. It ends with a sentimental love story designed to tug the heart-strings. Inbetween, there is teenage rebellion aplenty against the regime's institutionalised repression. Liberation comes through art and sex, which, in such extreme circumstances become even greater life forces.

With both plays told through the siblings' diaries alongside ass…