Blackbird: An Awkward Evening Of Theatre Or An Evening Of Awkward Theatre?

Hello, hello, hell no, hello Ladies & Gentle People.  I hope you’ve had a wonderful life so far.  I have once again been fortunate enough to win tickets from Review Brisbane. (<- Click here to show them love.)  This time to La Boite‘s production of David Harrower’s Blackbird.  The timeless tale of a woman who confronts the man with whom she once had an intimate relationship when he was 40 & she was 12.  That’s right folks.  To paraphrase Grant Morrison: Stay close to the sick bag.  This is:

Blackbird: The Review


Executive Summary: A very enjoyable, if slightly icky, evening of theatre.

Review: I’m not really sure how to start this review.  I do want to say good things about Blackbird because it was really good but no matter how hard you try you just can’t get away from the sliminess of the subject matter.  The opening scene, while brilliantly done, just makes you squirm.  I’m really not complaining.  I knew what the play was about when I went in so I wasn’t expecting anything different but that didn’t make it any less awkward.  I’m not talking about “I’m sorry, I forgot your name” kind of awkward.  I mean “Oh dear Lord I’ve just barged into your house & discovered you sitting on the floor of the living room in your underpants crying into a half eaten tin of dog food while watching reruns of Baywatch in slow motion on mute with the soundtrack to Titanic crooning melodiously in the background” kind of awkward.  There’s a difference.  I was constantly sitting there thinking “Wow I’m really enjoying this… does that make me a sick person?” but despite this I still managed to have a good time which means La Boite accomplished their goal.  I really don’t think Harrower or director Mark Conaghan wanted the audience to feel all warm & fuzzy by the end of this 90 minute production.

When I first walked into the theatre I was struck by the size.  Only seating 95 patrons, it’s very small & incredibly intimate.  This really works to the shows advantage.  I think in a large theatre it would be too easy to “look away” or disconnect from the onstage action when you started to feel a little squeamish.  In this theatre, however, if you look away you feel like everybody knows it which makes every disgusting accusation, every heartfelt tear & every tortured scream that much more in your face.  This play was intended to be confrontational & this theatre certainly helps it achieve that.  This was also helped along by some simple but effecting set & lighting design choices.  While to some they may have seemed so simple they were almost incidental I thought they were exactly what they needed to be.

Of course the real driving forces behind this show were the actors themselves.  Kathryn Fray & Daniel Murphy bring a tremendous amount of passion & agony to the stage.  I think it would be very easy to let a show like this start to drag as there are very few changes in setting (basically, two people walk on, two people walk off, in between they have a bit of a chat) but Fray & Murphy really manage to keep you engaged throughout.  I do have to say, on the odd occasion, I just didn’t quite believe what they were saying or doing.  A lot of the physical stuff (throwing, kicking, punching) felt a little uncomfortable & Murphy seemed to start the show completely, 115%, out of his mind distraught & almost never varied.  That might be realistic but when you go to the theatre you don’t want realistic, you want the perception of realism.  Fray managed to give the audience a much wider range of emotions without making me feel like she was just changing for the sake of it.  If I’m being honest, the dialogue from both actors seemed a touch forced when it started to get graphic.  Almost as though they decided they had to add in some rude bits otherwise it wasn’t a serious play.  I know these sound like big complaints but in the grand scheme of things they weren’t.  There were times when I had to swallow a little heavier than usual & times when I even felt a swell of pity for the man who had committed such an unspeakable act.  Rest assured this is not an easy play to pull off but these two do a good job of it.

Blackbird is playing at The Roundhouse Theatre in Kelvin Grove from April 07 – April 25.  If you have an evening to spare, get along & support a little bit of independent theatre.  You might have to shower 15 times afterwards but you will have a good time.

Who Should See It:
-Anyone who likes confrontation in their theatrical outings
-Anyone who enjoys seeing something well done no matter how awkward it makes them feel
-Anyone who likes supporting independent theatre

Who Shouldn’t See It:
-Anyone out for a laugh with friends
-Oversized harlequins with lisps

So have you seen Blackbird?  Do you want to see Blackbird?  Do you want to get a copy of the script & burn it in front of the author?  Why not leave a comment & let us know the details?  It’s easy, just click the link below.

Unless there is ever a next time,
Goodbye forever.

Luke Venables
Psychic Felafel Reader


One Response to “Blackbird: An Awkward Evening Of Theatre Or An Evening Of Awkward Theatre?”

  1. Janet Vivienne Says:

    I am really nervous as this play is about to be put on by some friends of mine locally. It sounds a bit sick. If I complain that plays about pedaphiles are probably not a good thing as it makes the whole idea of underage sex sound okay…whereas young girls need to be protected and educated and not sexually exploited by older men. I do not want them to do it as there are better plays and better topics and this will be awkward and embarrssing to talk about locally. I think all men probably want to f*** young girls and always have and it is a part of our culture that we have made it a crime and it supposed to naughty but valid to write plays about this topic and to say “Oh how clever you are to put on play about that stuff…- ho! You clever director ! You are to trying and shock us like that and be so very avant guard. And do we get a chance to see the girl drooling over ……etc etc. Give me a break!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: