Bluebird at the Tabard
Director Amanda Root brings award-winning Simon Stephens’ Bluebird to Chiswick’s Tabard Theatre. Root is a seasoned director whose previous endeavours include The Norman Conquest at The Old Vic, Jumpy at the Royal Court and King Lear at the Almeida.
Bluebird introduces us to Jimmy (Malcolm Freeman), a mild-mannered and seemingly average man, as he drives his Nissan Bluebird around London over the course of one night, collecting fares and stories as he goes. Each seemingly unconnected tale provides us with a little more insight on Jimmy, taking us ever closer to discovering his own tragic tale.
Pub theatres are generally intimate spaces and the Tabard provides the ideal setting for a play with such limited movement. Bluebird is set almost entirely in a car; the constant flow of “fares” is a cleverly ordered function to introduce interesting new characters and a string of moving and personal monologues. Most of Jimmy’s patrons are drunk, an inevitable truth for most of London’s vital nocturnal cab drivers.
Jimmy’s average, likeable persona is in itself charming and his own sad story does explain his depressing existence. Meeting his ex-partner in the second act provides Jimmy’s character with increased depth. However, the final details of his backstory prove unsurprising and lacking in power. What does work well is the chemistry between Jimmy and his wife, Clare (Selina Giles). Clearly still very familiar and comfortable with each other, the void created by the worst imaginable loss is tangibly evident.
The set is simple and unpretentious. A more complex set would only serve to distract from Stephens’ simple, honest dialogue. The uncomplicated chalk drawings and signage do not only display a map of London, but also reflect Jimmy’s clear and repetitive nightly cycle. See Bluebird for an enjoyable performance with some unexpected comedic bursts, in a charming, theatre space.
Bluebird is on at Tabard Theatre until 30th May 2015, for further information or to book visit here.