Blackbird

An arresting two-hander play that locks the audience into an experience of revelation and disgust, as a man and young woman discuss the ending of their past relationship, and the irreparable damage it has wrought on them both.

Blackbird

Blackbird begins with 27-year-old Una confronting the middle-aged Ray some years after the end of their relationship, the circumstances of which become evident as the play progresses. The narrative centres on this unravelling, and the disturbing themes it throws out, and remains gripping throughout the duration of the play.

The action is set in a single room, tying the audience to a mast and forcing them to endure the storm of confrontation and distress also endured by the pair on stage. They discuss their relationship and the irreparable damage they both suffered because of it. It's arresting. From the first word the audience is hooked, searching every line, every grimace and every manic smile for clues. The nervous laughter falls silent after the initial flirtations with humour abandon the room and leave the audience to the reality.

It is, after all, reality. Blackbird is based partly on a specific set of true events, but the situation plays out commonly enough that it needn't have been.

The award-winning script was made vivid in the Rialto Theatre by director Sam Chittenden, who has orchestrated the dynamic between the two characters perfectly. Power dances across the stage, and often abandons them both completely, epitomised as the pair sit down for Una's devastating monologue halfway through.

Then, after all the confusions wrought throughout the play are resolved, the dramatic twist leaves the audience with a totally new set of questions. These go unresolved, leaving the audience with some heavy work to do themselves after the lights go down.

The acting is triumphant; Lucy Laing and Martin Hobbs play off one another deftly and drag the audience through the ordeal with them. It is uncomfortable and disquieting, and it is brilliant.

*****


This show has now finished its run at Brighton Fringe. For more information, head here.

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