Tuesday, January 22, 2008

"The Blue Room" - January 2008

It's always a little worrying when a play is best known for having had a big name star in a previous production, but given that it was adapted by a writer I was at least aware of, I was willing to give this production at the Citizens a go - despite being able to find out little about the company - Replico.

The play is made up of ten short scenes each involving a sexual encounter, with one of the participants changing between each scene. All the characters are played by the same two actors - Neil McCormack and Karen Fraser. While you would suspect one of the problems of such a piece to be the difficulty in clearly differentiating between the 5 characters played by each performer, McCormack and Fraser do an excellent job of giving each a persona of their own.

Unfortunately the main problem I had with David Hare's adaptation was almost the reverse of this - that as written the characters rarely seemed consistent between the two scenes each features in. One of the characters late in the play hints that this is by intent, suggesting that we are all different people depending on who we are with. While I can certainly accept that to some extent, when the scenes are so brief it seems to cheat the audience a little to establish a character's wants, desires and beliefs and then depart from them, often drastically. Hare's dialogue is also a problem, leaving many of his characters very two dimensional and cliched, with only the character of the Playwright grabbing any real interest.

Given the nature of the play there is nudity here, although it isn't in a sexual way and the scenes are all before/after with a darkening of the lights in between. I don't think many would be offended by its use here - other than the fact that it's largely unnecessary.

I can't blame Replico for choosing to put on "The Blue Room" given the in-built publicity that it guarantees, but I'd hope some future productions are chosen more on the quality of the material, as they've shown here that they are capable of delivering a quality production if given the right text.