Blackbird in real life

Blackbird is like reality TV for theatre-goers. Who needs a set, when you can show a play on location? Two New York druggies fighting their addictions and each other would naturally need to be living in a dilapidated, derelict room. So, find the room and put the actors and audience in it.

In order to see this Crate Production, you must meet at the inconspicuous Ginger2 restaurant at Yonge and Gerrard. Maybe you've been there before, maybe you haven't. Either way, you most certainly have never been upstairs, until now. And the room alone, with the dirty mattress, plastic-covered window and dank mess of scattered bottles and cigarette butts, is enough of a reason to go to this show.

Not only is the room real, but the actors do an exceptional job at making the characters real. Kate Meehan and Chris Reynolds both give such a convincing performance that you get sucked right into the agony of their lives. Baylis (Reynolds), haunted by his days in Desert Storm, tries to care for Froggy (Meehan), as she struggles with her own past and drug addiction. It is tumultuous, arduous and blatantly graphic. More raw than you might be used to seeing at the theatre.

There's only one thing that throws this play off, and unfortunately it's the script. I'm almost sad to have to write this, because it just so happens that Adam Rapp, an up-and-coming playwright, is The Next Big Thing. I wish I could agree, I do. But I can't. The script came across like that of a first-time playwright.

The characters, amidst their pain, manage to have conversations about their past that they never had before. When Froggy is asking Baylis what he did before the war, I couldn't help but wonder why they hadn't had this conversation before. They have been together for a while now, why are they disclosing all of their deepest, darkest secrets tonight? As a result, this night of revealing conversations, illogically flipping between soft and loving to angry and abusive, seemed to go on forever. Nothing was left for the audience to figure out, or put together. Instead, classic of first time writers, the story was handed to us on a platter.

The play's setting might be life-like, but I'd rather Rapp assume the audience is more intelligent that the average reality TV viewer.

Blackbird by Adam Rapp, directed by Kimberly Purtell, with Kate Meehan and Chris Reynolds.
403 Yonge, runs to April 9, Tuesday-Saturday 8 pm, Sunday 7 pm.
$20-$25, Sunday pwyc, student and senior discounts available.

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