Blackbird – Gaiety Theatre – Review
Blackbird by Decadent Theatre
Running time: 80 minutes, no interval.
We meet Ray (Declan Conlon) as he pulls Una (Maeve Fitzgerald) into the canteen at his place of work. The canteen is a small, dirty room, with cans and food wrappers thrown all over the floor. Una arrived at Ray’s office unannounced and he is worried she is here to make a scene. The two of them have a dark history and haven’t seen each other in many years. She saw his face in a corporate magazine in her Doctor’s waiting room and eventually tracked him down. She is here to talk about their past and the last night they saw each other, many years before.
This is a play by Scottish playwright David Harrower, written in 2005. The play was first produced as part of the Edinburgh International Festival, directed by Peter Stein. It was inspired by the crimes of real-life sex offender Toby Studebaker. The play was a success and has been produced on many occasions since, including the controversial production by Landmark Theatre in 2007 with Stephen Brennan and Catherine Walker. In more recent times, it was converted into the film Una (2016) starring Ben Mendelsohn and Rooney Mara.
Decadent Theatre Company has a long history of producing critically praised but also popular work, with playwrights such as Conor McPherson, Marina Carr and Martin McDonagh all featuring in their back catalogue. They previously staged this play in 2007 with Judith Roddy and Stuart Graham playing the main characters.
This production loosely changes the setting to Ireland, with Irish place names and ferry terminals. The topic of the play is always a difficult one, making for an uneasy night at the theatre. Despite the subject matter, there is much to enjoy about this work. Declan Conlon has the difficult job of gaining the empathy of the audience as a man who committed a crime, and he does well creating the troubled soul that is Ray. Maeve Fitzgerald as Una is a woman damaged by her past and struggling to move on with her life. Her emotions seem volatile and her frailty is obvious to all. The play is presented without an interval, giving an intense and demanding 80 minutes of theatre.
Declan Conlon as Ray
Maeve Fitzgerald as Una
Director: Andrew Flynn