Review: Blue

A rich and layered coming-of-age drama lovingly realised in every aspect of the production

international review (adelaide) | Read in About 2 minutes
Published 28 Feb 2024
34186 large
Callan Purcell in Blue, photo by Stephen Wilson Barker

Mark (Callan Purcell), an aspiring writer, has just moved out of the family home and in with a new housemate. As he recounts unpacking his books, he begins to unpack his tale to the silently seated audience. What emerges is a coming-of-age story in the midst of personal turmoil, written with intimacy, earnesty and warm humour by playwright Thomas Weatherall.

Blue is a play elevated by its stage, sound and lighting design and grounded in its main performance. Purcell brings an appropriately youthful naivety to his role, as a heart-on-his-sleeve romantic who is forced, too young, to grapple with the worst tragedies of life. Instantly likeable, he is the body and soul of this play.

Evocative direction and design, meanwhile, drive home the play’s themes. The white-lit stage, reminiscent of an ice-float, stands in for the sterile places that preserve life but stifle growth. But video-projected waves transform the stage into the natural environment, at once destructive and nurturing, confrontational and enveloping, overwhelming and healing. In this way lakes, storms, the hinterlands and oceans all become secondary characters in the drama that drive events further, perhaps, than anyone would like. While in between hospital wards and beach shores, Mark finds his feet and his voice to become the man he wants to be in the world.

Blue is a play about creating connections and finding personal growth in the wake of seemingly unbearable loss. This is rich, layered theatre that has been lovingly realised in every aspect of its production.

Blue, Scott Theatre, The University of Adelaide, until 16 March