Blue Heart (two plays, Heart’s Desire and Blue Kettle) by Caryl Churchill
Orange Tree Theatre Richmond, London, to 22 10 16
Runs 1hr 40 with interval
Review: Tom Aitken, 20 October 2016
Exhilarating – why not give it a go?
Dan Rebellato remarks in his programme essay that ‘I’m not saying that Caryl Churchill can see the future, but she does seem to get glimpses.’ Nonetheless, he remarks also that her plays seem ‘to deliberately resist understanding’.
In Heart’s Desire she shows a family awaiting a daughter’s arrival from Australia. They set a table for dinner. They argue about whether they should have met her at the airport. This takes us through a brief dialogue. The dialogue and the setting of the table are repeated over and over again, at different speeds and volumes. Clearly the coming event is a source of tension, apprehension and worries about what the daughter might have become.
In Blue Heart some of the same techniques are used, but there are more people. One of them is a young man who senses that there is something complex and ambiguous about his status in the family.
What all this means is that although the central circumstance in each play is a familiar one, the puzzlement attached to each is evoked by repetition, which occasionally rises to something like panic.
These must be very difficult pieces to perform. It’s difficult to explain why, but for all the difficulties Churchill throws in front of us, (summable up, perhaps, with the question ‘What on earth is going on?’) there is something exhilarating about watching them.
Brian: Andy De La Tour
Alice: Amelda Brown
Maisie: Amanda Boxer
Susy: Mona Goodwin
Lewis: Alex Beckett
Young Woman: Tracy Lee Sharples
Derek: Alex Beckett
Enid: Mona Goodwin
Mrs Plant: Amanda Boxer
Mrs Oliver: Amelda Brown
Mrs Vane: Janet Henfrey
Mr Vane: Andy De La Tour
Miss Clarence: Maroussia Frank
Derek’s Mother: Gillian Axtell
Director: David Mercatali
Designer: Angela Davies
Lighting: Chris Swain
Sound designer& composer: Matt McKenzie