Connection and communication have taken on new possibilities in today’s internet driven world. Anyone and anything can be accessed anytime at the click of a button, as long as there’s a stable connection to the internet.
Abbey Wright’s Why is the Sky Blue? opens a Pandora’s box of opinions from over 10,000 young people discussing their attitudes to online pornography. Verbatim interviews, songs and tap-dancing interludes are woven together to explore what it’s like for young people growing up in a world where sexual explicit content is as easily accessed as junk food.
The cast of young people, aged between 7 and 21, bound onto stage with a rallying charge. They select members from the front row to read questions aloud, like ‘what happens when you watch too much porn?’ and not surprisingly these kids have all the answers. Flipping the dynamic of sex education on its head proves that children today know far more about the world around them than we give them credit for.
Matt Regan’s bouncy score translates the often brutally honest interview responses humorously and turns them into toe-tapping musical theatre beauties. Ditties about porn addiction, gay and trans porn and buffering internet connection have a hearty, vaudeville quality. Make no mistake however, this definitely isn’t a gang show urging for headline grabbing attention. Shireen Mula as dramaturg has carefully crafted the nuances of this piece perfectly. It is heartfelt, stripped back and done with such tact that the honesty pours out profusely.
The titular song ‘Why is the Sky Blue?’ is quite possibly one of the most gorgeous pieces of music theatre I’ve seen recently. The group of young people sing the questions that we’ve all at some point asked Google. Although it might seem inappropriate for young people to be talking about porn so authentically, this tear jerk of a song highlights how porn is acting as a quick fix solution for young people who just want answers to the questions they have about themselves, their bodies and the world they are growing up in.
Why is the Sky Blue’s charm is in its rough around the edges approach to theatre making- what it lacks however is more sophisticated direction. Sitting and moving chairs across the stage is the go-to cliche for any form of ‘youth theatre’ and it’s disappointing to see it done here. The cast are clearly able and confident actors and are perhaps let down by the restrictive direction.
Once again, the Southwark Playhouse comes up trumps in programming unsafe work that delivers a message, warts-and-all. Balancing humour and sensitivity perfectly, Why is the Sky Blue? is a standout performance with a gutsy force that isn’t scared to talk about the unmentionables. 4/5
Review written by Niall Hunt.
Why is the Sky Blue? Is currently showing until Saturday 19th May 2018 at the Southwark Playhouse. For more information on the production, visit here…