First performed in 1998 at the Royal Court, Bluebird is one of his first plays. After having watched more recent plays, such as Birdland and The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time, it is easy to see how in 1998 his writing already had the immense poetry and insightful grasp on life but was still undergoing important developments.
Amanda Root directs this rather gloomy play, which in the first half intertwines with quite comical moments but delves deep into hurt throughout the second half. Jimmy (played by Malcolm Freeman) is a taxi driver and this play is mostly set in his taxi as he drives new “fares” during the night, forging instant and fleeting bonds with these people who end up sharing their stories. He hears and reveals very little of his own story, but slowly the pieces of the puzzle start to gather and make sense. Some character encounters make little sense and I believe are only there with the purpose of denunciating the voids, the shallowness and the different ways people cope with everyday pain. No one who enters that taxi is content with life – they all expose situations each of us might relate to. They find quick comfort in the sharing of their stories and thoughts, as much as we all do. In that sense, Bluebird has beautiful yet aching moments and this is the tone underlying the core of the play. Some characters are particularly believable, such as the nightclub bouncer played by Mark Griffin, as he shares the violence he witnesses followed by a profound anguish over things being the way they are.
In the second half we are led through Jimmy’s personal story as he re-encounters his ex-wife, Clare (played by Selina Giles). It is easy to guess what Jimmy did that would make her hate him, after they both lost their 7 year-old daughter. It is a troubled situation and Giles captures the grief in this former mother in a very convincing way. However, there is not much variety or action in this lengthy second half apart from the dwelling in the pain of loss and the sharing of old memories.
There are important and powerful words being spoken and because of that I feel engaged throughout the play, but there is very little action and that can become quite tedious for the audience in such a long play. However it is still a thought-provoking evening and that is my number one thing in the list of what I look for in an evening at the theatre. 3/5
Review written by Sofia Moura.
Bluebird is currently showing at the Tabard Theatre until Saturday 30th May. For more information on the production, visit here…