Review: The Blue House, Blue Elephant Theatre

Not just your average piece of fringe theatre, The Blue House pushes poetic boundaries at the Blue Elephant Theatre in Camberwell

“Have you ever felt so sad you thought you’d never be happy again?”

There’s something kinda exciting about the adventurousness of Helikon Theatre’s The Blue House, a boldness that you might not always expect from a fringe theatre. But Camberwell’s Blue Elephant Theatre has long trodden its own path and as their first production back since, you know, all that, it’s a welcome return for this venue.

Gaia Fay Lambert’s play, directed here by Myles O’Gorman, deals with loneliness. Through three figures who live in the same house – artfully conceived in Hazel Low’s design – but in isolation from each other, three intertwining monologues depict the desperation and desolation they feel as they struggle to work through their various heartbreak, grief, and depression.

Coming after a period unlike any we’ve known in recent times, The Blue House can’t help but hit home hard. The challenges of lockdown aren’t cited directly but rather feed into the bigger picture of societal pressure. And the differing ways in which the characters react to their own difficulties means that moments of resonance can’t help but sing through as Lambert’s poetic voice stretches out in thought-provoking ways.

O’Gorman’s direction initially emphasises that universality of message through stark, communal direct address. Swaying queasily but standing shoulder to shoulder, Gbenga Jempeji, Meg Lewis and Séamus Newham are blisteringly good as an almost Beckettian style dominates the first half. As the trio splinters in each then finding their own journey, the play perhaps loses a little of that unique energy but The Blue House remains a pleasingly fascinating discovery. 

Running time: 75 minutes (without interval)
Photo: Ted Baxter
The Blue House is booking at the Blue Elephant Theatre until 25th June

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