By Andrew MacNiven
The Blue Room Theatre continues its commitment to interesting and unorthodox performances with ‘Broken Colour’, an arresting examination of mental illness, which also questions the supposed sanity of reality. Presented by production company Same Cat, Nina Pearce’s play arrives with a fine pedigree, having won the Jill Blewett Playwright’s Award in 2010.
Gareth (James Helm) and his wife Olivia (Hannah Day) have just returned home after spending three months travelling through Asia. Gareth, a psychiatrist, is fixated upon the idea of having a child, while Olivia, an artist, finds herself in a post-holiday creative malaise. Olivia is less interested in starting a family than she is in turning her gaze inward, engaging in self-reflection and reconsidering both her art and her relationship with Gareth.
Eliza (Caris Eves) is Gareth’s new patient, a young woman who is seemingly haunted by visions and delusions. Eliza experiences some form of synaesthesia; she is apparently able to discover details about the personalities of those she comes into contact with through the colour of their clothing.
There is a danger that, in such an introspective play, the characters might seem self-absorbed, or the dialogue feel contrived, but it is testament to the talent of the cast that they manage to avoid falling into such potential difficulties.
The play makes interesting use of interconnecting scenes, which frequently blend seamlessly from one to the next; characters often remain on-stage, in the background, upon the conclusion of their dialogue. This stylistic choice reflects Gareth’s loosening grip on reality, as his interactions with the two women begin to mirror one another.
‘Broken Colour’ is an unconventional and intriguing look at a number of important subjects. This fascinating work examines big ideas: fantasy, reality and the layers of perception between.