Blue Surge

Rebecca Gilman
Finborough Theatre
(2011)

Blue Surge publicity image

It has taken a long time for Blue Surge to cross the Atlantic in this Ché Walker-directed evening. The 2¼ hour play premiered at the Goodman in Chicago a decade ago and its slow advance is probably recognition that, compared to this writer's best work, as seen in plays such as Boy Gets Girl, it falls a long way short.

The characters are more like the trailer trash in the earlier but far more compelling The Glory of Living but founder in contrived plotting.

Unbelievably, after a hilarious nude police raid on a massage parlour cum brothel, both of the cops involved start dating the prostitutes that they arrest.

Doug, played by Alexander Guiney, seems as much of an airhead as his permanently high girlfriend Heather (Kelly Burke) until some late scenes when he acquires instant maturity.

As a contrast, James Hillier's Curt, who is engaged to an upwardly-mobile puritan, not only falls for Sandy (cue for a Bruce Springsteen ballad) but tries to do to her exactly what his disappearing fiancée wants to do for him.

We therefore get the comical situation of a snooty woman trying to drag a working class cop up to her level, while he is spending his time persuading a hooker with whom he remains celibate that she should give up her career to work as a waitress.

None of this makes much sense and when the cops prepare for a second raid, the plot becomes even less likely when Kurt feels obliged to tip off Sandy, touchingly portrayed by Clare Latham, thus killing his career and ironically making no difference to her.

Miss Gilman appears to have written Blue Surge to make the point that trying to socially engineer the lives of others is a mistake. The moral might be valid but her means of delivering the message leave a lot to be desired.

Reviewer: Philip Fisher