Pitch production’s ‘Blue Room’ is a genuinely impressive piece of student written theatre. It is easy to forget while watching that this play was written by a student, and, while there are improvements that could be made, Cohen should be commended for writing an interesting and clearly incredibly well researched piece of theatre. There are some successful directorial choices made, particularly the choice to have the male lead character of ‘M’ played by a woman. While this makes an interesting statement, the actress playing ‘M’ is dressed very androgynously; perhaps even greater effect could have been gained from having her be dressed hyper feminine or hyper masculine. This would perhaps bring out the absurdist elements of the play that I really enjoyed even more.
Ariana Van Biljon plays the lead character of ‘M’, based on the real-life mass shooter Elliot Rodgers. Her acting as ‘M’ is incredible. It is amazing to see her deliver a show largely by herself with such stamina and passion. Her acting, including her gestures and facial expressions, are captivating, leading the audience from feelings of strong sympathy for the character at the beginning of the play to overwhelming hatred by the end. However, the play does sometimes feel a little one tone and occasionally lacks tension. I think more meticulous directing and more restricted movements early on in the show would have allowed the outbursts of anger and rage later on in the show to be more effective. Similarly, although Van Biljon is mesmerising on stage, I found the play began to feel a little repetitive. I think this is mainly due to the minimal use of movement, with most of the show taking place with ‘M’ sat in the same chair. More movement could have made the piece more engaging as at times, as, although the pacing of the monologue is good, the play risks feeling a little stagnant.
Alex Cohen’s appearance on stage seems utterly bizarre to begin with; however, throughout the play I grew to appreciate his presence more and more. His character is underused at the beginning, but I appreciated that the character has potential for comedy. I particularly enjoyed the ending exchange of clothing. One choice I did find a little strange is his character’s final fall, as this didn’t have quite the desired effect.
The use of blue lighting sets a lovely eerie feel for the piece, and the use of sound snippets throughout the show are interesting and add an extra level of engagement to the show. Credit must go to the technical director Conrad Staroscik for these elements as they really round off the show.
Overall, ‘Blue Room’ is an enjoyable production, which, while having the potential for more interesting execution, is deeply thought provoking. Cohen should be commended for writing an engaging piece of theatre that has the ability to spark a high level of debate surrounding the themes discussed.
Poster credit Rahul Shah