Adelaide Fringe 2013
In the course of 10 acts, Zac Zevod and Kaitlyn Clare bring to life people who are all interconnected through their relationships. Some are fleeting, some are blossoming, some are crumbling, and yet all are fraught with tension, as nobody is faithful. Each scene involves sex, the most intimate act one can do with another person, but each story wraps up with our lovers left empty, deluded, and sad. David Hare’s seminal play about deceit and devotion forces us to question whether our quests for carnal knowledge only ever leave us even more alone and confused.
The play opens with a woman in a blue wig giving come-hither eyes through a window. We later learn that this is a prostitute, and she has a brief dalliance with a taxi driver. Whilst she initially has the upper hand, the taxi driver, once their sex is done, callously throws money in her face and leaves her feeling cold and bitter on the ground.
And so begins the battle of the sexes. For even though Hare’s play contains nuanced, naturalistic dialogue about relationships, class, societal expectations, responsibility and foreign relations, it is essentially a play about men and women finding different ways to woo and then hurt one another.
Kaitlyn Clare is brilliant as the female lead. With an earnest face, cat-like movements, mastery of different accents and a rich voice that fills the tiny theatre space, she is magnetic. In her second to final role, playing an actress, she was a caustic Siren, and captured the attention of each member of the audience, Zevod not standing a chance.
That is not to say that her co-star was outmatched in every act – Zevod’s role as a hypocritical politician in the middle of the play gave him a chance to shine. He revealed layer after the layer of the character – the stuffy bureaucrat, the bumbling husband, the arrogant sleaze, and finally, the snivelling and desperate man in the midst of a midlife crisis. Even though Clare is better at hitting the comedic beats, Zevod is one of those rare actors who is unafraid of utilising pensive silences, using them to great effect.
The play ran smoothly, the actors clearly well-rehearsed at quick costume changes. The props were sparse, as was suitable for a play where the action is centred on the actor’s speech and movements, and what added a level of intimacy to the play were the different scents that permeated the small venue. The smoke of the actors’ cigarettes, lotion being rubbed onto legs, the mothball smell of vintage clothes. Even without the eclectic yet appropriate soundtrack of Tom Waits, Edith Piaf and Franz Ferdinand, the scents alone managed to evoke the plays themes of sleaze, secrecy, and nostalgic longing.
If I had one complaint it would be that the chairs weren’t entirely comfortable, and having to move around to different sets at certain points in the play interrupted the flow of the narrative. However, this is an excellent and intimate adaptation of The Blue Room, led by a talented cast.
Like a teaspoon of honey mixed with vinegar, The Blue Room is for those who like their romance stories more biting than blissful.