Psychological Warfare at the Belasco
I have never been so greatly disturbed by a fictional story than I have with David Harrower’s Broadway play, Blackbird. The performance by Michelle Williams and Jeff Daniels was nothing short of mind-altering, leaving the audience with heavy burdens to carry home with them. The show packed the Belasco Theatre religiously for three weeks and never fell short.
A cancerous relationship between a twelve-year-old girl and a forty-year-old man, reunited fifteen years later…the weight of the story cannot be ignored. The characters, Ray (Daniels) and Una (Williams), create a psychological tug-of-war that generates a monumental range of all of the worst emotions. While the eighty-minute play takes place in a single room, an entire world is created between four walls. Ray’s gray, dismal office space is imprisoning, leaving no chance of escaping the sickening confrontation between the two.
Una’s flowery dress is the only sign of color on stage, obligating all eyes towards her as she saunters closer and closer to her assaulter. She sways with a child-like innocence that diminishes with each passing minute; her body language is nauseating and elicits shame for the compulsive voyeurism. Ray’s gray, sweat-drenched suit and matching hair become more disheveled as the story unravels. His rage bubbles within as his limits are tested to the utmost extent; his mistakes cannot be forgotten.
The horrors of their past are dug up and sifted through, as we watch them try to piece back together a tainted relationship that has taken a discernible toll on both of their lives; the unfolding calamity is difficult to look away from. The urge to scream is unbearable and breath taking, causing a feeling of helplessness. Do not underestimate this powerful story…you may find yourself lost in it long after the curtain call.