Sebastian Barry‘s 2017 production of On Blueberry Hill has already been seen by audiences in Ireland, Paris and New York and is now making its London premiere at Trafalgar Studios, where it officially opened last night.
With a cast of just two (Irish Times Theatre Award and Olivier Award winner Niall Buggy and West End and Broadway star David Ganly), – a daunting prospect for a play that is 100 minutes without an interval – this could have been a long and painful watch.
But despite a slow start, the action picks up quickly and the audience are drawn in to the story and the time flies by. Both actors (who never speak to each other, only to the audience) are fantastic, dropping the C word (not Coronavirus) and delivering comedic lines perfectly within a very serious play.
Christy (Niall Buggy) and PJ (David Ganly) are the best of friends and worst of enemies. Destined to share their lives in Prison for twenty years, after prison guards think it will be fun to put together, two people whose actions which led them to prison, directly effected each others lives. The two men reflect on the hope and torment of life outside as they slowly uncover the events that led them to their world with explosive, bittersweet consequences.
This new play is bursting with humanity, as it explores forgiveness, survival and, ultimately, love. It is a gripping watch about two men who destroyed each others lives but ultimately have formed an unbreakable bond in the aftermath.
Gripping, emotional and well worth a watch
Reviewed by West End Wilma
Photo: Marc Brenner