Camden Fringe 2018: Blue at Etcetera Theatre
Blue is an exquisite one-woman performance which uses dance, poetry, sound and clowning to explore mental health and space. Packed with sci-fi allusions and jokes, it’s clever, funny, beautiful, left-field and wildly inventive, cramming an enormous amount into its 45-minute runtime.
The eponymous protagonist lives on the moon with only her lobster Spock for company, but she welcomes us into her world with open arms. Entirely silent save for a strange disembodied voiceover, the lone human is nonetheless able to show us her pastimes, and to enlist the help of the audience when she struggles. Her hobbies include dancing along to classic sci-fi theme tunes with Spock her willing partner, playing catch – with the lobster still her willing, if less able partner – as well as fishing and even shadow puppetry.
On the level of pure performance, this play is exquisite. Everyone involved ought to be hugely proud of the piece they have created. Despite a clearly limited budget – necessitating the use of a lot of cardboard and quite a bit of imagination – the character’s world becomes completely immersive thanks to the tenderness of the storytelling and the brilliance of Kim Scopes’s central turn, displaying wonderful technical and theatrical ability.
But it is in its sensitive treatment of a difficult issue that the production truly stands alone. Plays about mental health can often be very serious and gritty, depicting debilitating illnesses, collapsing relationships and grave discussions between doctors, friends and family about the right course of action. There is no doubt that these situations exist and these portrayals are absolutely valid and necessary, but they are not the whole story.
Blue, despite its other-world setting, is by contrast much more everyday in its exploration of mental health. All psychological issues are deeply personal, and much like the unending expanse of space, can be difficult for others to penetrate, comprehend or understand. This staging does a brilliant job of exposing the ways in which outward displays do not necessarily mirror internal feelings.
Camden Fringe 2018: Blue is at Etcetera Theatre from 15th August until 19th August 2018. For further information or to book visit the theatre’s website here.