Thu 7 Feb, Chapter Arts Centre
This debut by playwright Rhys Warrington calls to mind Tennessee William’s Glass Menagerie, albeit in a very different landscape, a claustrophobic and unhappy family home in Carmarthen. It is by turns a romantic comedy, a kitchen-sink drama and a comedy of errors, but with a sense of deep grief bubbling under the surface.
The dysfunctional family at the heart of the play are Lisa and her adult children Elin and Huw. Their father, Lisa’s husband, has recently been sent to a nursing home due to an undisclosed illness that has taken away his mental capacities. His absence has engendered a deep grief, intensified by unshared feelings of guilt and blame. The fragile Huw, played brilliantly by Gwydion Rhys, is a shy and awkward young gay man who does nothing but play Minecraft all day and obsessively polishes the seaside mementos that he used to collect with his father. Elin, played by Sophie Melville, home from University in London, is brashly cheerful, yet at the same time emotionally volatile and constantly at loggerheads with her manipulative and brash mother (Nia Roberts).
Into this caustic environment comes Thomas (Jordane Bernard), an urbane Londoner and the siblings’ former teacher, newly promoted to Head of Geography, and himself also grieving for his recently deceased father. Thomas finds himself thrust into the centre of the family unit, with all members competing for his attention in a series of increasingly awkward misunderstandings that had me hiding behind my hands at certain embarrassing moments.
The Blue of the title refers both to the childhood nickname given to Huw, the awkward Internet obsessed son of the family, and the colour of the front door which is compulsively locked every time anyone comes in or out, adding to the feeling of entrapment. The Welsh word for blue is Glas -maybe a metaphor for the fragility of this family as they reassess their roles after losing a much-loved father.
words Sarah Thomas
Blue is at Chapter Arts Centre until Sat 16 Feb. Tickets: £14-£10. Info: www.chapter.org/blue