Review – Blue on Blue, Tristan Bates Theatre @TristanBates

#Tweetingit – 3* Army veteran and ex-con under the same roof, lusting after the home help; a blank canvas waiting for detail, promises much more than it delivers.

Blue on Blue, Tristan Bates Theatre - Daniel Gentely and Ida Bonnast © Gavin WatsonThe set up feels instantly familiar; Moss, limbless Iraqi war veteran shares a flat with his nephew Carver, a convicted burglar with shall we say emotional issues; completing this ménage a trios is Marta, willowy, attractive home help. Moss teases Carver with tales of bath time and Marta tending to his every whim.  Carver grows increasingly frustrated as he cranks up his efforts to pull the exotic Hungarian home help.

This is the age old tale of two guys chasing one girl, who unwittingly plays both ends against the middle. You sense a paradox in Moss and Carver’s relationship; they both feel trapped yet dependent upon each other, and Marta provides an aching reminder of the female companionship they both crave. It felt reminiscent of the ground breaking BBC play for today series from the 70s, with a grittiness about the characters that promised a story to challenge, enlighten and amuse the audience.

But it just doesn’t quite get there; the script relies far too much on expletives, particularly Blue on Blue, Tristan Bates Theatre - Daniel Gentely and Darren Swift © Gavin Watsonthe c-word and f-word, which is distracting and gets laughs for mainly the wrong reasons.  Not that I have a problem with explicit language; it can add rhythm and punctuation to a script provided it’s used in the right context. An ex-con and war veteran sharing a flat will inevitably result in a colourful vocabulary; but when it’s used in a dramatic context there must be an underlying purpose. We use bad language to convey anger or humour, but in this instance it does neither, and just feels that an opportunity has been missed to develop a promising script. There are, however, genuinely affecting scenes between Moss and Carver, and we see, in a purely blockish fashion how much they care and understand each other’s foibles. Marta’s visits seem to disturb the fragile alliance they both share as a battle royal ensues for her affections.

Blue on Blue, Tristan Bates Theatre - Darren Swift and Ida Bonnast © Gavin WatsonAll three players performed admirably in their respective roles; Darren Swift, a real life army veteran and amputee, has undoubted presence in the role of Moss; Daniel Gentely is totally believable as the nervous, unpredictable Carver; and Ida Bonnast has no problem carrying off the role of Marta.  Overall, the play has potential but fails to reach any real conclusions, or develop any depth in the characters portrayed.

 

Author:  Chips Hardy

 

Director: Harry Burton

 

Producer: Eva Crompton

 

Booking Link: https://www.tristanbatestheatre.co.uk/whats-on/blue-on-blue

 

Box Office: 020 3841 6611

 

Booking until: 14 May 2016

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About Playhouse Pickings

Theatre blog run by Rhiannon Lawson; a civil servant, extreme tea drinker and theatre reviewer.
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