When basic needs aren’t met, the door to dysfunction swings wide open. So goes the Aluminous Collective’s Blackbird, by Scottish playwright David Harrower and inspired by actual events.
Scandalous, but far from salacious, the play explores the aftermath of a brief, but impactful relationship between a 12-year old and 40-year old.
The back story is presented in a film short at the beginning of the play--one of many brilliant touches by director Michael French.
The ensuing drama unfolds at the workplace of the accused, fifteen years after the incident. Elena Wright and Charles Shaw Robinson are stunning--with the audience only a few feet away, there is no safety net.
Both give an intense and deliciously nuanced performance as their memories and ambivalence trickle, then flood the spare staging during this intense 90 minute tour de force.
Originally scheduled to open last February, the run was cancelled after the actress Summer Serafin died unexpectedly during the second week of rehearsals. Believing that the show and this play in particular must go on, French persevered and launched a new company (Aluminous Collective) to mount the production with a dedication to the original leading lady. (Proceeds will be donated to the University of Minnesota Summer Serafin Transplant Fund.)
Blackbird ultimately asks more questions than it answers. See it with friends or people you typically agree with. And prepare yourself for a heaping helping of cognitive dissonance.
Now through November 6 at Dance Mission Theatre, tickets available ($10-20) from Brown Paper Tickets.
photo courtesy of Pak Han