I think it’s safe to say that live theatre has been sorely missed over the past few months. Online theatre has been a welcomed comfort in these times, when visiting theatre venues hasn’t been viable, but many have longed to get back in person. Tonight, I feel that sentiment more than ever, but not for the reason you may think. Tonight’s show makes me miss the theatre because it leaves me thinking, if the online rehearsed reading is this good, imagine how brilliant it would have been onstage.
Despite my wish to have seen Blue in all its glory onstage, it in no way diminishes my enjoyment of this evening’s performance. Unique though the set-up may be, it is surprisingly engaging. With all four actors in different locations, with no set or costume, I’d have expected this intimate, domestic play to have been almost impossible to stage effectively. And yet, this rehearsed reading manages to deliver all the drama necessary to have me thoroughly gripped.
Written by Rhys Warrington, the script is simply brilliant, and tells the story of a mother battling to keep her family together, after an unexpected arrival. It is dynamic – managing to be both comedic and poetic – whilst recognising the sober reality of the subtext. The writing isn’t limited by its domestic, naturalistic setting, finding layers which lends the play some theatrical flair. In some ways, by taking away all the scenery and props, the script is elevated even more, allowing it to truly shine.
This rehearsed reading reunites the four original cast members: Nia Roberts, Sophie Melville, Jordan Bernarde and Gwydion Rhys. The intense chemistry the cast displays is bewildering – considering they are performing over video call. Sat reading, directly into the camera, it is unmistakable the amount of nuance and detail that exists in each of their performances. I am pleasantly surprised that this simply staged reading is able to deliver the most entertaining and engaging performances I have seen from an online show thus far.
Tic Ashfield’s sound design is a welcome addition to the performance. A blend of rainfall with a soft, somewhat sad musical composition, accompanies the story beautifully. It’s the final piece of the puzzle that really makes this reading stand out.
There is an ongoing debate about the effectiveness of online shows; tonight, Blue definitely makes a case in their favour. This reading delivers what all good theatre needs – a brilliant script, engaging performances and effective design elements. Truthfully, watching this show, part of me wishes I could have seen this live in the theatre, but I count myself lucky I got to see it at all.
Blue was performed online as a rehearsed reading. For more information about future performances, see the Chippy Lane Productions website.