Friday, October 1, 2021

Blackbird Revisited

When I first saw David Harrower's play Blackbird on Broadway in 2016, it quite impressed me, so when I heard that Kim Sharp would be directing a revival of the piece, I knew I wanted to see it.

Sharp's direction is spot on, and actors Francesca Ravera and Lenny Grossman deliver compelling performances. I had seen Ravera before in a production Sharp directed of Neil LaBute's The Way We Get By at Urban Stages. Originally from Italy, she speaks with a slight accent, but this worked for the character of Una, giving her the feeling of someone slightly different, someone the character of Ray might have found exotically attractive when he had an affair with her fifteen years ago.

The hook here is that fifteen years ago Una was only twelve years old. She tells us right from the beginning that this was abuse--he abused her--no doubt about it. Once we establish that Ray was an abuser, the interest in the play hinges on what being an abuser really means. Grossman does an excellent job of exploring the nuances of his character, not charming us into finding him attractive and likable, but not making Ray into a slimy monster, either.

As a playwright, I enjoyed watching the play a second time around and seeing all of the twists and turns in the script. Harrower certainly knows what he's doing in the piece, and crafts the shifts and surprises quite deftly. If you've never seen it before, you're in for a treat.

Act quickly, though, because the play closes on Sunday, October 3rd. Performances are at the New Ohio on Christopher Street in Greenwich Village.