Pros: Honest performances are combined with truthful writing and laid bare for the audience to experience without any theatrical interference.
Cons: Not suitable for younger viewers nor those who would count themselves as easily offended.
In the heart of London’s theatre vortex, the Tristan Bates Theatre is the ideal home for Chips Hardy’s painful and witty dark comedy Blue on Blue. This production magnifies the difficulties that can arise when an outsider with good intentions ignites a volatile situation. Looking at the battles of daily human experience this fast paced, smart-mouthed script has been exquisitely produced to create an unforgettable piece of theatre.
The tale tells us of Moss, a war veteran who tragically lost his legs in action by friendly fire. Moss is bundled up in a small, pokey flat with his disgruntled, highly-strung and mentally ill nephew, Carver; they verbally abuse one another and yet, they remain one another’s only life line. A spanner is thrown into the works however when Moss takes on a new European carer, Marta. This naïve care assistant tests the boundaries between Moss and Carver, and the script plays out the influence her presence and good intentions have upon their relationship.
The production’s opening was strong, throwing us into a sensory atmosphere of a war torn field. Throughout the lighting and set were simplistic, accompanied by sound and music at pertinent moments. This was all that was required to accompany Hardy’s quick-witted and controversial script. At times, the set changes were a little long; but given there was only a cast of three and both performance and set changes were completed by the actors themselves, this was easy to overlook, and it didn’t affect the overall experience of the production.
Generally, comic timing and the pace of dialogue could be improved just to build ever so slightly on the relationship between cast and audience. Most of the time the incredible cast took these little things from my mind. The naturalism, sincerity and authenticity of their performances made it difficult not to find the characters endearing.
Darren Swift was difficult not to love as the boisterous and quick-witted personality of Moss; and being a war veteran himself Swift’s performance was also real and credible in every sense of the word. Charismatic Moss was the perfect partner to bounce off Carver, played by Daniel Gentely. Gentely’s portrayal of a mentally-ill Carver was heart-wrenching at the worst of times. We witnessed the external and internal difficulties he had to deal with on a daily basis. Ida Bonnast’s performance as Marta was the perfect little tornado in their small world. Her naivety and the care she showed towards the other two characters just highlighted that she only ever meant well.
If you count yourself as someone who is sensitive to expletives and humour at the expense of others, this production may not be something you would enjoy, but you will sorely miss out. As honest a production as you will ever find. Chips Hardy’s writing and these truthful performances came together to produce an inspiring piece of theatre. This risk taking production deserves to be recognised for its embodiment of an important element of theatre. Displaying issues that aren’t always addressed and giving us an honest look at how it really is.
Author: Chips Hardy
Director: Harry Burton
Producer: Eva Crompton
Booking Until: 14 May 2016
Box Office: 020 3841 6611
Booking Link: https://www.tristanbatestheatre.co.uk/whats-on/blue-on-blue