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Bluebird at the Space: a strange intimacy

A deep well of humanism lies at the heart of Bluebird, but not once does it ever tip into sentimentality, thank goodness. Jimmy (Jonathan Keane) works as a mini-cab driver listening to his fares’ stories of life, grief and general woe, connecting to some, aggravating others but always attentive; somehow he’s nourished by their stories, as they are by the details he lets slip. As the play unfolds, it becomes obvious that Jimmy would also like to connect with his wife as an important anniversary looms.

We all carry tragedy around with us, but the mechanisms of grief and forgiveness are perhaps the hardest to move. Jimmy certainly tries to earn his place in the world again, but even if he never stops sleeping in his cab, you come away feeling that he is somehow reconciled to his strange world of vicarious living through the people he meets.

The cast do a sterling job, negotiating a cross-shaped stage (the cross shape being surely no coincidence) with grace, evoking Jimmy’s various rides as a prolonged 40 days in the wilderness. Isn’t it strange how we’ll tell the most personal details to a virtual stranger? All Jimmy’s fares bare their souls. He is perhaps the only one who keeps his cards close to his chest; what he hears a welcome distraction from his own feelings of guilt and pain.

Special mention must go to Jonathan Keane whose naturalistic performance as Jimmy was the still heart of the piece and Kathryn O’Reilly as one of his passengers, Janine, whose strangeness and loneliness was particularly affecting. Interestingly, it’s a play that isn’t afraid to let the silences roll a little, which is all to the good in SEEN’s opinion, like the intimacy afforded in Jimmy’s cab, and Jimmy’s own self-containment, it’s what remains unspoken that has the power. It’s on until 4th August.

269 Westferry Road
Isle of Dogs
E14 3RS