The story follows the first encounter between Una (played by Eleanor Ryan) and Ray (Played by William Jordan) in fifteen years. Their last encounter left them both in tears, Ray in jail and Una's family devastated. The story crosses many lines with the previous unconventional relationship between Ray as a forty-year-old and Una as a twelve-year-old and in doing so, many potential theatregoers would instantly rule this play out. However what they are missing out on is a brilliantly acted and edgy drama that dares to talk about the complicated emotions of abuse.
In Una's aim of finding closure, she seeks Ray out after seeing his picture in a magazine. Seeking answers to many questions such as did Ray still think about her? Ray's attempt to start anew by changing his name, moving elsewhere and finding a new partner has been crushed by Una's unexpected appearance. In their first encounter as adults, emotions are raw and mixed. Full of confusion and anger.
What drew me into this play is the powerful confidence displayed by Una as she attempts to regain her sense of self. You could almost feel Ray's pulse quicken with anxiety as she spoke calmly about their previous relationship, their last encounter and the persecution she faced for years afterwards.
It's not often you get to hear a story like this from both sides. The encounter is awkward and uncomfortable as you'd expect it to be and viewing it may not be easy but it is fascinating. The script is tightly written and barely allows the viewer to breath for fear of interrupting.
Una (Eleanor Ryan) & Ray (William Jordan) in Blackbird by David Harrower
Whilst Blackbird may be triggering to some viewers, don't be put off by the content. Instead, relish its vivacious storytelling, its immaculate acting and its ability to make you feel what each character is facing as Una & Ray reveal their deepest thoughts.
The venue may be simple, the room small and intimate but that only increases the sensation that you are in the room with Una and Ray, experiencing the mixed emotions as they are in real time.
Blackbird has previously been performed in Edinburgh, London, New York and San Francisco. It won the Laurence Olivier award for Best New Play in 2007. It appears for a strictly limited season as part of the Sydney Fringe Festival.
The Off Broadway Theatre Hub is at 74 Pyrmont Bridge Road and there is free on-street parking directly outside (clearway until 7pm). Multiple buses run along Parramatta Road and the venue is an easy short walk from Parramatta Road. There is no bar or snacks served in the theatre as it's inside an art gallery. There is a convenience store one minute walk from the venue.
Una (Eleanor Ryan) & Ray (William Jordan) in Blackbird by David Harrower.