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Review: A Blue Something, online @ The Space

The Space is a wonderful place, never afraid to take risks and a testing ground for new theatre. That does mean you’re heading (virtually) into a show never quite sure what to expect. And sometimes you leave none the wiser. That is how I felt at the end of A Blue Something. There are interesting moments, hints of intrigue running throughout, of what it may say come the end. It’s just that, truthfully, I simply didn’t get it. I like a challenge, a play that leaves questions, or that is open to interpretation. But there is a fine line…

Summary

Rating

Poor

Even by the standards of the experimental theatre that The Space puts on, this one just felt way too ‘art for art’s sake’. The saving grace is some lovely subtle directing, along with a fine turn by Gemma Ortega.

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The Space is a wonderful place, never afraid to take risks and a testing ground for new theatre. That does mean you’re heading (virtually) into a show never quite sure what to expect. And sometimes you leave none the wiser. That is how I felt at the end of A Blue Something. There are interesting moments, hints of intrigue running throughout, of what it may say come the end. It’s just that, truthfully, I simply didn’t get it. I like a challenge, a play that leaves questions, or that is open to interpretation. But there is a fine line at times between being abstract and being just way too arty, at risk of losing itself in its own cleverness. For me, that line was crossed here.

So where to start? Well, in a non-descript room, with four seated strangers, and a whole lot of garbled noise, as they artistically move in their chairs. It feels very much a Space kind of show; experimental, daring, promising. When Hervey (Felix Ryder) describes it as “the waiting room of hopelessness” it leaves a lovely question over what the room really is, and why these four are here. There is just enough at this point to justify the whole drama-school feel; the over-elaborate lines, the avant-garde movements, the long thoughtful pauses.

The scene then changes, via a short dance piece, to a bar, where two of the four are flirting, suggesting some history that was not at all present in the opening scene. Does this mean that time has jumped forward? That since that waiting room they have met again, developed friendships, become lovers? Who knows – I certainly don’t. Out of nowhere, Mandy breaks the fourth wall as she tells us of the deer she saw; it’s another chance for some rather arty movement as her gloved hand becomes that deer. Thankfully Gemma Ortega’s Mandy is the real standout performer, so whilst you may shake your head at what on Earth is going on, you can appreciate how she delivers it. Suddenly there’s another shift, twelve years pass, and Chris (David Westgate) is now famous and appearing on a chat show talking about his new show, which is remarkably similar to the story we have just witnessed. And end.

If you think that plot summary makes no sense, join the club. I am as lost come the end as I was at the start. I’m afraid at times it simply screamed ‘drama school project’, throwing all those learned techniques into the pot and hoping it comes out fully formed.

There are saving graces, the aforementioned Gemma Ortega being one. It’s also a joy to experience the new equipment that the Space has invested heavily in to livestream every show. Gone is that grainy single camera, colours thankfully no longer bleed into each other. The camera work, presumably controlled by co-directors Magali Jeger and Monika Matosevic, is lovely and subtle, exactly as live theatre online should be; just the occasional switch between the now two cameras, and a simple zoom to give focus on a conversation. Nothing excessive, nothing to distract.

Contrary to belief, it isn’t fun writing a poor review. We do appreciate the time and effort that goes into every show. But time and effort isn’t always enough, and sometimes a show just doesn’t click; it’s a struggle to understand quite what it is trying to say. A Blue Something sadly falls into that category for me, it was just too much like a school project, trying way too hard to be clever but in the end only feeling very flat.

Written by: Magali Jeger
Directed by: Monika Matosevic & Magali Jeger
Movement direction and choreography by: Sofia Canosa
Produced by: Two Flats Theatre

A Blue Something is availble to watch live for two more evenings via The Space. Booking details below.

About Rob Warren

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Rob accidently ended up working in social housing as a temporary thing. That was ten years ago and hasn't got around to leaving just yet as it fits nicely in with his political views of the world. Started out writing music reviews. Spent many a happy night propping up bars in the back rooms of London's dodgiest music venues. Whilst he is still looking out for the next great band, Rob eventually got into theatre as you get to sit down rather than stand. Theatre was also kinder on the hearing, which had never recovered fully from the last Primal Scream gig he attended. Like his work, Rob tends to like his plays a little social leaning, which probably explains why he struggles to find people to go with him half the time.