The Blue Room

The Blue Room
By David Hare. Produced by Five Pound Theatre. The Owl and the Pussycat, Richmond (Vic). Director: Jason Cavanagh. 7 to 18 August, 2012.

When the show I went to see (last Thursday the 9th) finished, the woman sitting next to me jumped up and said, ‘I loved that. That was great.’  And it was an entertaining, enjoyable and engaging performance. 

This production is a lot of fun because Director Jason Cavanagh has dealt it a really light touch.  The actors, Kaitlyn Clare and Zac Zavod, both appear to be reveling in the work and the audience, engaging in a relaxed manner and laughing naturally from time to time. 

The Blue Roomis an updated version of Arthur Schnitzler’s play La Ronde that was first published in around 1900.  In its original form it was a fascinating document of socio-sexual mores, a daisy-chain of intimate, and mostly illicit, relationships.  In this more recent incarnation David Hare has made changes to the characters to update it for our times.  The Soldier is now a taxi driver, the parlor maid, an au pair, and the Little Miss has become a seventeen-year-old model.  And the other striking difference is that the social values have changed, ‘mercifully’, through the integration of feminist ideas.

From my experience of having played the Young Wife (many years ago), her particular scenes have hardly been changed but her character, in this contemporary version of the story, is less disreputable with the shift over time of our (for want of a better way to put it) moral expectations.  And Kaitlyn Clare interprets the character’s point of view poignantly.

The small shop-front space of the Owl and the Pussycat is used to full advantage in the staging.  The actors take off and put on clothes a number to times both for scene changes and as part of the play.  The relaxed, matter of fact way this is done enhances the sense of intimacy and engagement.  Clare is a very beautifully proportioned young woman and her capacity to embody a number of characters - distinctly and convincingly - is striking. 

Zac Zavod works well to play his five varied characters.  However I wonder if he is not severely limited by having a moustache.  This is the second time in the last few months that I have seen a male actor with distinctive facial hair play a number of characters and on both occasions I felt their whiskers were restricting and limiting them.

5 Pound Theatre has been putting on some very good shoe-string theatre.  Most recently I was lucky enough to catch Ruby Moon at the Own and Pussycat and was particularly impressed with the production values and the very high calibre of the acting.

Solid and impressive work.

Suzanne Sandow

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