Premiering in the Pioneer Stage at this year’s 24:7 Theatre Festival is The Bluest Blue, the first play written by Paul Osborne and produced by York’s Old Bomb Theatre.
Simply directed by Paul Stonehouse, the play begins with two strangers meeting on a bench outside York Minster. We are instantly drawn into the vibrant and vivacious female character, Raquel, dolled up as a fairy traffic warden separated from the rest of her hen party. Felix, the man she meets, is quiet and reserved, quite happily minding his own business and initially reluctant to be drawn into conversation with the beauty from Barnsley. The premise of what follows is that, however brief, their connection was life-changing for Felix and he endeavours then to find his fairytale princess again.
Raquel is played captivatingly by Hannah Dee who brings strength, vulnerability and truth to the role. Hannah’s portrayal compliments Tom Gladstone’s more serious, awkward and inhibited performance as Felix, making it believable that he would overstep his own boundaries under her spirited influence. The couple brought to mind the heart-warming connection between Malcolm and Brenda in 80s sitcom Watching, encouraging the audience to rally behind their potential relationship. The third character, Stevie, played by Alan Booty, is the least developed, acting as a sounding board for Felix’s ramblings. Stevie allows for further proclamations of pride for Yorkshire, a theme running through the play.
My reservations with the script are the use of the flashback after Felix relays the tale of his union with Raquel to Stevie. I wonder why the narrative could not be linear and whether the character of Stevie is even necessary. I also felt that Raquel’s denouement was hurried, yet final, and I would rather have left with a little more hope than I did. The ending and final tableau is cheesy, but I, along with the rest of the satisfied audience, didn’t mind that too much. At least it was Yorkshire cheese.