The Bluest Blue

Paul Osborne
Old Bomb Theatre
24:7 Theatre Festival, New Century House, Manchester
(2010)

The Bluest Blue

The trailer and publicity image for Paul Osborne's The Bluest Blue makes it look like a monologue about a rather loud girl dressed as a traffic warden on a hen night, but fortunately there is rather more to it than that.

It begins—as do a great deal of short plays (Zoo Story has a lot to answer for)—on a park bench, in this case beside York Minster, when a person who is trying to enjoy some peace and quiet is reluctantly drawn into conversation with a stranger. In this case, the first person is Felix who works in a bookshop and is also a student studying the Italian Renaissance. His tormentor is Raquel, dressed in a fancy dress version of a traffic warden's uniform with fishnets and fairy wings, who tells him she is a real traffic warden from Barnsley on a 'hen do'.

Of course Felix goes from being annoyed by her to finding her fascinating, so much so that he later tries to track her down. When he finally finds her in a tower block in Barnsley, he discovers that her real story is far more interesting and terrible than the story she gave him in York but he is frustratingly powerless to help her.

Although the whole story of the first scene has become a bit of a cliché, it is very nicely written with some lovely, believable dialogue that draws you into the world of these characters. The second scene between Felix and his friend Stevie the street sweeper is just there for a bit of clumsy exposition and feels like filling, but then when we flash back to his final confrontation with Raquel (if that is her real name) we get another nicely-written scene that seems to be taking an expected direction but then twists away to something far worse.

There are some really nice performances from Tom Gladstone as the nervous, reserved Felix and from Hannah Dee as Raquel, who almost has to play two characters as she is very different playing the loud, outgoing person in York and the sadder, more frightened person at home. Alan Booty is fine as Stevie, although the character is rather underwritten and doesn't really need to be there at all.

And what is the 'bluest blue' of the title? Well, it is a recurring theme, referring to the sky over York Minster, Felix's eyes and the lapis lazuli used to create the ultramarine colour of the Virgin Mary's cloak in renaissance paintings, but other than that it doesn't appear to have any direct connection with the story.

Despite some flaws, this is an interesting story well told with some very good performances and definitely worth a look.

Until 1st August

Reviewer: David Chadderton