Saturday, October 2, 2010

As Dark As A Blackbird

A tragic tale. A taboo topic. A forbidden love.

This is the premise of the award-winning play by Scottish playright, David Harrower entitled "Blackbird".

After an earlier run for the play was postponed till September this year, Red Dot Diva and her friends have been eagerly waiting to catch the performance at our local theatre. This finally happened at the DBS Art Centre last Thursday.

Staged by the Singapore Repertory Theatre and directed by Tracie Pang, the play was helmed by well-known, local-based theatre actors - Emma Yong and Daniel Jenkins.

"Blackbird" is about Ray and Una - fateful lovers who come to a confrontation 15 years later. They had run away when he was 40 and she --- a mere pre-teen at 12. Ray was caught, charged and imprisoned while Una was left to deal with the repercussions of their sordid act while still living in the same house, in the same town.

Needless to say, the unexpected meeting in the dirty, unkempt break room of Ray's office started a psychodrama of words - where conflicting feelings of guilt, shame and desire came to light. The two then exchanged barbs that cut like a knife, revealing layers of the past and the present.

Red Dot Diva sat there riveted as the tale twisted and turned. By the end of the play, it was never clear who was the victim and who was the predator.

If you thought the Double-Rainbow at Yosemite was intense... this play is like WHOAAAAAAAA... VERY INTENSE. Thanks to the emotional commitment given by the two very talented actors - Emma Yong and Daniel Jenkins.

One of the more amazing parts of the play was how the lines for a confused, lonely, coming-of-age girl desiring a much older man hit the nail right on the head. And Emma played the wide range of emotions with great effect - first with unnerving frenetic angry accusation then later, with a sense of panic and loss as she relived the past.

Daniel was more than convincing as a man caught in between boundaries and desire. It is credit to his strong and balanced acting that he got the audience going sympathetically to his story. (Which they really shouldn't! But ahh....!)

The dull grey set was interestingly claustrophic, especially with the coils of barbed wires at the top of the break room. A metaphor of such an illicit relationship, perhaps? All in all, the play was well-paced and well-executed, and watching the 75-minute performance unfold concerning a singular topic did not even feel boring or labourious.

Red Dot Diva personally felt that Ray still got off too lightly for his crimes. And that is how things still are when it comes to sexual relationships in general in the real world - men still have the upperhand. But I guess, it wasn't the play's objective to put out a judgment. It left the matter to the audience to decide for themselves.

"Blackbird" has ended its run in Singapore today. If you like tragic dark tales with a controversial subject, Red Dot Diva highly recommends that you watch "Blackbird" when you have the chance. Whether it be a local or overseas production, it is one play that would generate a discussion that could last for days.

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