There are voices, the light comes on; a man and woman stand across from each other in a small dreary lunchroom room – so Blackbird begins. She appears vulnerable but defiant and he, like he has seen a ghost from his past, and repeatedly asserts that he did not have to talk to her: ‘Who is she?’ ‘Why does he want to avoid her?’
The audience are captivated voyeurs to an intimate conversation between two people who had a brief affair 15 years ago, only then, she was a child. It is the interaction between a man who wishes to get away from his past and the girl from his past, now a woman, who is determined to confront him.
Blackbird is an Olivier Award-winning play that is brought to The Other Room in a brand new production from Those Two Imposters. It sieves through the highly contentious issue of paedophilia, and challenges the audience to see it from the lens of a love story, albeit a criminal one.
Una, played by Sophie Melville, bluntly calls Ray out on his past acts while wearing her heart on her sleeve and displaying her underlying vulnerability. Christian Patterson plays the evasive and ashamed Ray who is compelled to reveal his condemned emotions and account for his actions.
Tempers flare as she confronts and he defends; but there is also a masked curiosity that they occasionally give in to as they try to piece together the changes in each other’s lives.
It is in this thrust-and-parry that they slowly unveil the layers to each other’s narrative on that fateful night, and the ensuing damage that had scarred both of them.
David Harrower’s skillfully-crafted script captured the hyperboles while remaining close to reality, and the actors’ marvelous performance in commanding the presence of the whole audience from the small stage absorbed the characters like their own skin.
Blackbird is an intense whirlwind of emotions on an issue that usually elicits a unanimous red stamp. I think its success lies in the raw and honest interaction between past ‘taboo’ lovers that follows the audience long after the curtains fall and the lights come on. It leaves the audience trying to reconcile the moral wrongs, the different narratives and forbidden love or infatuation.
Blackbird plays at The Other Room in Porter’s Pub from 25th October 2016 – 4th November 2016. Tickets can be booked from www.otherroomtheatre.com.
by Nachatira Thuraichamy