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“Plays – just like dogs – resemble their owners”. These are the words with which Lucy Kirkwood introduces Sonya Hale’s audioplay Blis-ta. Sonya Hale, having been a significant member of Clean Break for many years, managed to complete the production of her (originally 170-page long) script shortly before her death. Blis-ta was directed by Róisín McBrinn and can be listened to for free on most streaming platforms.
Blis-ta may not resemble the Sonya Hale who wrote the piece from her plant-laden London flat, but it does remind of the Sonya Hale who found herself in a similar situation as Blis-ta’s Kat and Cherry many, many years ago. Unlike many other plays about homelessness, Hale does not look from the outside in but manages to tell the story from the inside out – from her own experiences. This makes the one-hour-long audio play very intriguing.
Blis-ta is performed by Ambreen Razia as Kat and Ria Zmitrowicz as Cherry. We join the two girls somewhere near a big city cash point in the rain where they meet for the first time. Cherry finds herself approached by a group of men assaulting her and is saved by Kat’s lively, spirited, and utterly self-confident character. Together they manage to free themselves from the stares and wandering hands and embark on an energetic chase through the high street, the shopping centre, and Tesco’s until they eventually reach a hidden quarry. This particular spot will be their little paradise for the weeks to come and becomes the centre of their bliss for the time being. A friendship enkindles between Kat and “Twinkletoes” — the Blista Sistas — that is unmatched and has unexpected things in store.
Blis-ta is not just an emotional rollercoaster exploring the friendship between two women who do not have much, other than themselves. It is also a first-hand depiction of how fluctuating life on the streets can be. I find myself fully immersed in Kat’s and Cherry’s story and their search for freedom. But behind the laughter and liveliness is a dark reality that manifests more and more as things escalate and I find myself listening to it with a lump in my throat.
Ambreen and Zmitrowicz deliver a sublime portrayal of two careless but lost young women who are going through the best and the worst. The banter, the giggling and the synchronised breathing make Blis-ta what it is – a stunning audio performance which opens the door to voices and stories we hardly hear of. It only goes to say: “It was ace!”