In Blackbird, playwright David Harrower invites us to witness a deeply unsettling conversation.

The lasttime they met, Una was a 12-year-old child and Ray was a 40-year-old child abuser.  After 15 years, Una has shown up at Ray’s office to try to understand how he has been both an example of love and a perpetrator of mistreatment.

Even though Blackbird gives full weight to the damage caused by sexual abuse, the script also acknowledges Ray’s humanity,and David Bloom, who plays Ray, does so with a passion and dignity that made it impossible for me to despise the character.

Stephanie Elgersma’s Una is both naïve and bold—and the shift from one aspect to the other gave me goosebumps. Elgersma allows Una to speak with her eyes. In them, I saw a river of blood and an absence of childhood.

Director Omari Newton’s blocking is repetitive, but he has also added a masterful touch: audience members who are too uncomfortable to sit in the room with Ray and Una can watch them from a safe distance on television.

Remaining performances at Shoreline Studios on September 7 (8 p.m.), 8 (2 p.m. and 8 p.m.), 9 (2 p.m.), 10 (8 p.m.), 13 (8 p.m.), 14 (8 p.m.), 15 (8 p.m.), and 16 (2 p.m.) > Sarvin Esmaeili


This is a guest review.

Sarvin Esmaeili currently studies at Studio 58. She is a passionate 19-year-old theatre artist who cares a lot about diversity, inclusion and creating her own theatre and music. Sarvin is fluent in three languages: Farsi, English, and French. She loves reading, travelling, writing and going to the theatre. She is a co-playwright/performer of One of a Kind at the 2018 Vancouver International Children’s Festival and Doors of Choice and Identity at Vancouver Youth Theatre. She has done community theatre at Evergreen Cultural Center, Place des Arts and Pinetree Secondary’s Treehouse Theatre.


Sign up—free!—for Colin Thomas’s FRESH SHEET and get daily reviews from the Vancouver Fringe. (During the regular season, FRESH SHEET is stuffed with the world’s most fascinating theatre news. Here’s a taste.)

And, because theatre needs informed, independent criticism if it’s going to thrive, check out Colin’s Patreon campaign. (It takes a village to feed a critic.)




About Colin Thomas

Colin Thomas is a Vancouver-based editor, an award-winning playwright, and an established theatre critic. Colin helps writers unlock the full potential of their novels, short stories, screenplays, and children's books.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Sign up—free!—

YEAH, THIS IS ANNOYING. But my theatre newsletter is fun!

Sign up and get curated international coverage + local reviews every Thursday!