Caryl Churchill’s Blue Heart is a wonderful match of two one-act plays. The first, Heart’s Desire, plays on the element of surprise in narrative. The second of the set, Blue Kettle, pushes the barrier of language. Both one-acts succeed thanks to memorable acting and the inherent development present in Churchill’s writing.
Heart’s Desire is extremely well-developed and produced. The play focuses on the task of waiting. A mother, father and grandmother await the arrival of their daughter/granddaughter, but her arrival is really of no importance. It’s the small elements that Churchill wants the audience to note. Through Churchill’s incorporation of the drunken son and other quirks, the audience becomes aware that she is redefining theater.
In Heart’s Desire, the actors repeat the same dialogue over and over again, showing how integral surprise and minor changes are to the outcome of a performance. The physical movement of the play is key. It acts as a leg for the play to stand on. The show challenges the audience members’ knowledge of conventional theater and forces them to ignore their prior experiences and biases, accepting Churchill’s tactics at face value.
The second one-act, Blue Kettle, is difficult to get into, but the show leaves the audience with a more meaningful interpretation than the first show. Physical movement and scenery are not a necessity for Blue Kettle. The dialogue alone keeps the audience members questioning the underlying message. The talented performances help to clarify the show’s cryptic message, but some questions still linger. Churchill makes a statement about language and allows the audience to glean their own meaning from the show because the message is not presented in black and white.
In Blue Kettle, a man tricks elderly women into believing he is the son they gave up for adoption more than 40 years ago. With his charade as the central point, Churchill makes a statement on the decline of language and the rise of vernacular.
Blue Heart reveals much about the author of the show. Churchill knows how to focus on women as well as psychological topics. Blue Heart follows suit. Heart’s Desire and Blue Kettle include a talented cast that nicely executes the well-produced show, giving Churchill’s art the credit it deserves.
Blue Heart continues at the Studio Theatre through Dec. 5. Studio Theatre is located at 1313 P St., NW. Ticket prices range from $19.50 to $38.50.