Reviewed by Nicholas Linnehan
Before I write my review of BlackBird, I would be remiss if I did not say how wonderful it was to go to the theater again! And for the most part, we were treated to a good show. Despite some moments that seemed forced. The cast had many moments that were pleasurable.
What happens to an adult when, after many years , he receives an unexpected visit from a woman he molested years ago? Una, now a woman in her 20’s tracks down Ray, at least 20 years her senior, who sexually abused her when she was 12 and confronts him about their relationship. Ray is stunned to see Una after all these years. Ray changed his name to Peter, in an effort to erase his past, and has since married. The two end up in a filthy workroom, at Ray’s job, where every emotion slowly unravels. For the next 90 minutes we are on a roller coaster as we hear about their strange inappropriate relationship.
Like I said before the cast, in this mainly two person play, adequately bring these characters to life. Francesca Ravera and Lenny Gossman do a pretty good job flushing out the nuances of their time together. Some moments are better than others. Grossman emotionally indulges in his work which makes him push with great force. He is working so hard to create his character that sometimes it feels like he is over-acting. Still, when he backs off and lets himself be in the moment, he delivers some powerful moment, where we unexpectedly empathize with him which is no small feat. Whereas Ravera seems to have truly connected with Una, which makes her performance seem more genuine. Her pain and yearning are palpable, which draws the audience to her and brings some sense of reality to the piece. Her vulnerability,her greatest strength, and her need for Ray are tangible which allows us to identify with her struggles well.
Still, it was an enjoyable evening and a promising start to post pandemic theater! If you do go see this good production, make sure to bring your vaccination card as it is required for admittance.
Blackbird plays now through October 3rd at the New Ohio Theater, 154 Christopher Street. Www. new OhioTheatre.org