Blud is the first production of The Other Room’s second season, Cardiff’s first pub theatre, a part of Porter’s Bar.
Blud is also the first creation of otherMother, partnering with The Other Room, this co-production is a brave first step, in such an intimate theatre setting, everything is considered.
The hour-long production is in keeping with the first season at The Other Room, treading difficult themes, challenging the traditional male setting of a football locker room with a two-woman play. Addressing girl gangs, rival groups and the care system, the crux of the play is in the title ‘Blud’, the need for family. The play explores the impact of the most important relationships- of immediate family, and the impact of family on life.
Set in a London borough, the action focuses on the impact of two rival football teams, separated by a boundary line, and prosperity. As Cotley Town FC lose their star player to Helmsgate, Rita is left struggling with the impact including the treachery of her old friend also moving her alliance.
Francesca Marie Claire as Rita steps up to the mark as the promised warrior and fighter. Her opening dialogue is convincing, as she faces off to the audience, the fast paced, melodic monologue is interspersed with humour, allowing the intimacy offered at The Other Room to be less confrontational and more a window into the unfolding action.
With the entrance of Olivia Elsden as Lou comes the more personable side to Rita, although absolutely cleverly unfolded to allow Rita to maintain this ringleader role within the gang, there is no softness from Rita but her vulnerabilities unfold through memories which are able to become known through Lou’s dialogue.
Elsden offers a wonderful portrayal of the 15-year-old sister, convincing in mannerisms, the bond of siblings, and beyond within the care system is carefully developed and revealed, the levels of emotion and need are carefully unfolded alongside the character of Lou.
At times the pace of the dialogue can become a distraction. In most other settings unnoticed, a great detail of the authenticity of the characters is created through execution of a cleverly written script, and a minor slip moves the dialogue back to a script.
A single set, two-person play is a tall order, but the play successfully maintains momentum as relationships are established, the added humour and complexity brought by the seeming presence of Marcus James allows the main themes to be established within a context and purpose of conversation.
The clever design by Chris Young, incorporating football commentary allows the focus to be retained in the here and now, there is no opportunity for distraction within the story as the timeframe is critical to how the action will unfold.
The play ends, as promised, with many questions left unanswered- practical and moral. It does not aim to solve anything, but offers a window in a world which exists whether society draws back the curtains or not.
Blud is at The Other Room at Porter’s until 18th September 2015.
Disclosure: I received complimentary tickets for the performance for the purposes of this review. All opinions contained are my own.