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REVIEW: Blue by Thomas Weatherall

Review by Markus Hamence – Performance date: Friday 15 March 2024, Scott Theatre, South Australia

‘Blue’ by Thomas Weatherall, a name that conjures images of vast skies and deep oceans, might not be a title everyone’s familiar with, but it certainly paints a vivid picture before the show commences.

It’s just me and the water... Mark has always wanted to be a writer. His mum’s a writer too, and together they’d spend hours reading and writing in their garden. When Mark moves out of his childhood home and into his first share flat, he and his mum stay connected by exchanging letters. When Mark one day receives a letter with the news too painful to bear, he seeks solace in the sea – the source of his fondest yet most agonising memories” – From State Theatre of South Australia

State Theatre Company of South Australia have done very well with presenting us a deep and personally move moving production. Directed by Deborah Brown, it is a well delivered piece of the finest theatre.

The Essence of ‘Blue’

At its core, ‘Blue’ is a compelling narrative that weaves the complexities of human emotions with the tranquility and depth associated with its title color. Weatherall, in the creative scenario, crafts a story that challenges and engages, making us ponder on our connections – not just with each other but with our environment. The connection between a man and his mum is explored and it is most intriguing and eye-opening to how complex it can be, BUT, how simple and delicate all the while.

This one man play is a triumph, and as exhausted as I currently am, fatigued by ALL of our current festivals and goings-on in Adelaide, I was transfixed.

Themes and Characters

Weatherall’s characters could be as multifaceted as the hues of blue in nature, each representing a different aspect of the human experience. From the deep indigo of sorrow to the light azure of joy, the characters’ journeys might mirror the ups and downs we all face, highlighted against the backdrop of a world that’s constantly changing.

Callan Purcell is exceptional as Mark. After seeing this performance, it is near on impossible to imagine any other actor playing this role. He connects with the audience immediately. His comfortability on stage and his authenticity with the role is seen. There are a LOT of words in this play, it sometimes boggles my how an actor can remember one and a half hours of dialogue in a one-man-play when there is no-one to bounce off. Kudos Callan. There is something real and pulp-able in Callan’s work, there are moments you are swept away and feel like giving him a big hug for what he is going through, it is THAT real. I cannot commend this actor enough, my desire to see him is further works has been piqued now.

The Set and Atmosphere

Visualizing the set design, one can imagine a space where the color blue dominates, but in a way that’s far from monotonous. Through strategic lighting and set pieces, Weatherall uses the environment to underscore the play’s emotional depth, transitioning seamlessly from warmth to coldness, from intimacy to distance – much like the diverse environments of nature. Chloe Ogilvie has created the perfect lighting design for this production, the colours seamlessly flood in and flood out evoking your emotions during the show.

The Takeaway

While ‘Blue’ by Thomas Weatherall, as discussed here, springs from an personal interpretation, it invites us to reflect on our inner landscapes and the environments we cultivate around us. This play, through its exploration of a mother and son relationship, reminds us of grounding – from the expansive skies above to the seas – and the importance of fostering growth, both in ourselves and the people we have around us. I’m still thinking about it and in the morning will be calling my mother to have a good conversation over my morning coffee at a quite cafe in the city.

The Ocean and Emotional Landscapes

Just as ‘Blue’ might explore emotional landscapes, our engagement with the sea offers a parallel; it’s not just about the beauty but about creating emotional sanctuaries. The ocean bares witness to our daily lives, offers comfort, continuity, and a touch of nature’s unconditional acceptance. I do believe this wonderful and thought provoking piece of theatre can have an audience member walk away each with something different or personal depending on what is occurring in their own lives, almost a healing or connecting experience. If you walk out and say ‘That was just really good theatre’, that is equally good.

In Conclusion

Thomas Weatherall’s ‘Blue’ serves as a beautiful reminder for life’s complexity and the importance of the role of our inner relationship with ourselves is. Whether you’re a seasoned theatre go-er or new to the world of theatre, let ‘Blue’ inspire you to connect more deeply with your surroundings and appreciate the quiet yet profound impact of nurturing your life.

State Theatre of South Australia, you’ve done it again! FIVE STARS *****

Tickets to the remaining shows here! 🙂

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