In the Blue

Peter Gill
Direct Action in association with the Young Vic
Theatre 503, Battersea

The second piece in the Peter Gill double bill of love stories directed by Daniel Evans at Theatre 503 could hardly be more different from Lovely Evening.

The writer, director and designer are the same and the story of uncertain love is in some ways similar. However, in this case the lovers are older and they are gay. The setting, made clear by Christopher Oram's Pop Art mural in black and white, is contemporary London.

Both the relationship and the play are determinedly post-modern. Toby Dantzic's Michael is an educated man who wants to work with people and so has given up a solid job to become a hospital auxiliary.

Like his lover Stewart (Paul Rattray), he suffers from insecurities in both love and life. Stewart is a Scot who is on the verge of alcoholism and a life on the streets. As a consequence, he can never relax with Michael or, indeed, himself.

In the Blue consists of the innumerable possibilities of the relationship, with Michael orchestrating variations on a theme that are reminiscent of a violin sonata. On a constant basis, he moves focus with a single word "or" and we are off again on a new by-way of love.

Thanks to an outstanding performance from Dantzic that shows a real empathy with his talented new director, this is a very moving experience even though it lasts less than half an hour.

The theatre may have to accept that it will see less of Daniel Evans on stage in future. He has shown great promise as a director in two different styles. For the sake of his fans, it must be hoped that he considers following Mark Rylance's lead and combines roles.

Reviewer: Philip Fisher