by guest critic Gregory Forrest
“God it’s hot.”
“Did you know it’s the hottest summer we’ve had in fourteen years?”
“It’s too hot.”
Pretty much every line from Bluebird speaks true, but my God do these words glitter. Like beads of sweat.
Jimmy is a cabby, drifting through the nooks and crannies of London, picking people up and dropping them off. Through mundane confessions, flirtations, and farewells, he sketches a map of the city made out of stories. But what about his story? That’s seven seventy please.
The debut play from Olivier award winning playwright Simon Stephens (Harper Regan, Punk Rock, and The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time) is a testament to his skill as a storyteller, weaving banal conversations with a heartbreaking undercurrent of loss and redemption. All on a single summer’s evening.
Space Productions deliver a production which is full of zest and smart choices. Particular praise is due to Jonathan Keane as Jimmy, who gives the play its essential wry humour and emotional texture. As his estranged wife Clare, Anna Doolan also unpacks her character with careful insight and kindness. Director Adam Hemming’s staging is slightly imbalanced to one side of the auditorium but this can be easily resolved, and his attention to the movement and music of the piece is thoughtful of the play’s themes.
Bluebird is a poignant celebration of London’s infinite variety. One character observes two essential traits of those who live in London: a) they’re from somewhere else, and b) they want to leave. Yet here we all are. Basking in a heatwave. Roaming around and bumping into each other. If there’s a play that will give you hope for London in its current haze, that play is Bluebird.
Bluebird runs until 4 August.
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