FringeReview Scotland 2017
Charlotte (Charlie) and her father arrive at the facility in which Charlie has been sent to recover. After dad has left a variety of other inmates come and go with varying degrees of success before Charlie is released into the care of her family once again.
The blue door of the title is clearly set in the midst of our stage. A number of young people are wandering round the set with blankets and pillows also on the floor for set. With the craft room off stage left, with table and chairs, we have a recreational area of conversation. At times the therapist is given her own spotlight to interrogate each of the residents as we meet each and hear their stories before becoming embroiled in their endings – both tragic and hopeful.
Presented as part of the annual On The Verge Festival, from the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland, it is admirable that any young company seek to demonstrate their understanding of one of the major issues of our day and this was commendable in part because of this.
The issue for me, in the half hour presentation was that I found it a little shouty. It worked best when the volume was turned down and the characters were speaking in a manner which opened up their character. The lack of subtlety made it hard to engage with the narrative.
In terms of performance there seemed to be a value placed upon the exhibition of extremes rather than upon the complexities of the character. Where it was illustrative was in the African proverb that stretched across the piece and linked the end with the beginning.
The beds down front were not the best use of the space and could have been dispensed with as the scenes in them were under developed and information contained in them could have been relayed in a more creative manner. The scene changes were often clunky and lasting almost as long as some of the scenes which hindered the connections required to be wholly effective. In at least one character, there was a hesitant delivery that was more hesitation than delivery.
Where it did work was when it tried to move away from a naturalistic format. The psychiatrist interviews were a very good touch and had that been the beginning of breaking down the blue door, I think we would have seen a very strong piece. As it was it was a very good piece of theatre that worked well with subject matter that deserves treatment of this sort; it is also a group of creative beings who deserve credit for taking it on and being bold, what they need now is to regroup and move onto the next level.