Thursday, September 16, 2010

Episode 724: Blackbird

Tonight was my first time catching a professional production on opening night, I think. It was honestly only noteworthy because Shirley and I were sitting in front of Adrian and Tracie Pang, the latter being the director for this production of David Harrower's Blackbird. Daniel Jenkins and Emma Yong were brilliant, which should come as no surprise. It's tempting to compare the former's performance as Ray, in particular, with his turn as Katurian in The Pillowman, as the emotional range demanded by both roles overlaps significantly. Indeed, it seems not unfair to compare the two productions as a whole, since they were both staged by SRT. I personally feel that The Pillowman presented characters that were easier to empathise with, however monstrous their behaviour, as despite being urged in the programme booklet to view the plot of Blackbird as being fundamentally about a love story gone horribly wrong, it is almost impossible to escape the predatory overtones of Nabokov's Humbert Humbert and Lolita in the relationship between Ray and Una. That said, the controversial nature of their relationship is complicated by our awareness that it was, to some extent, consensual. The question then becomes one of whether a 12-year-old girl, however adult her desires appear to be, can be said to be qualified to give consent. The one thing that did annoy me slightly about the production was how both characters tended to repeat words mid-sentence. I'm sure it's part of how the dialogue was written, and it was effective in conveying things like agitation, but it was really quite distracting initially.

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