A short review: Michelle Williams and Jeff Daniels in Blackbird, Belasco Theatre, New York
The detritus of several work lunches and an over flowing bin in an anonymous, functional break room. It is the perfect setting for the meeting of two people whose lives are full of emotional debris.
A young woman, Una (Michelle Williams) has come to confront Ray (Jeff Daniels) who raped her when she was a 12-years old. As the story of what happened between them is unravelled, feelings and hurt surface and the long term impact of those events are revealed. There is unfinished business between the two, questions to be answered.
The casting of this play is perfect. Michelle Williams' small frame and almost girlish dress teamed with stilettos works on several levels. A visual symbol, perhaps, of how part of her is frozen in time, part of her is still that 12-year old girl. And, given where the story goes, is it subconsciously calculated, a test of Ray's feelings? Jeff Daniels' bigger build contrasts so that its not that much of a stretch to see Una as a 12-year old girl. It makes the play all the more unnerving.
When Una recounts her version of events Williams' draws you in, takes you back in time. It's like you are reliving every moment and feeling with her. It is an utterly gripping performance and one during which you have to remember to breathe.
David Harrower's play delivers punches to the last. It is an intense and uncomfortable watch, it is daring and unflinching in its approach to this complex subject matter and it will haunt you.
Blackbird is one hour and 30 minutes without an interval and is on at the Belasco Theatre, New York until June 11.