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Review: Blue Beard at HOME is ‘beloved classic turned into 21st century fever dream’

Blue Beard is an incredible modern adaptation of the 17th Century Folk tale by Charles Perrault by Emma Rice.
Blue Beard

Drawing from the original 17th century folk tale Blue Beard, by Charles Perrault, Emma Rice flips the script and jolts the outdated fable into a 21st-century fever dream.

When Lucky’s beloved father dies, she and her family are thrown for a loop as they adjust to life without their biggest supporter…

Blue Beard at HOME

Her mother Treasure (Patrycja Kujawska) pushes Lucky (Robyn Sinclair) and her sister Trouble (Stephanie Hockley) to go and live vividly, only asking that they call home to let her know they are safe.

Soon after, the girls encounter the enigmatic and alluring magician Blue Beard (Tristan Sturrock). Lucky is immediately smitten with him and the whole family is quickly swept away into a life of technicolour.

Now married, Lucky and Blue Beard live a life of abundance, but everything is not as it seems and questions will only stay stifled for so long.

Meanwhile, a Lost Brother (Adam Mirsky) makes his way to the Sisters of the Three F’s searching for answers of his own. As these tales unfold in tandem, reality comes crashing in and the audience learns the true cost of curiosity.

Blue Beard is very much a tale of two halves.

Though the story is cohesive across both acts, the interval marks a swift and severe departure from the frivolity of the first half.

Act one feels like something in your chest is building to a scream, and act two feels like finally getting to release it.

Because each story is fairly self contained within its own act, the show is fast paced, with frequent songs and seamless transitions between scenes that help to move the story along.

Incredible score by Stu Barker

Blue Beard

Composed by Stu Barker, the music of Blue Beard is all performed live which adds so much to the atmosphere in the room and allows the story to feel intimate despite the outlandish elements. It is an eclectic mix of genres from gentle acoustic songs to jazzy standards, there is sure to be something for everyone.

The cast of Blue Beard are all multi faceted performers who display a wide range of skills while traversing difficult topics with sensitivity.

Katy Owen is fantastic as Mother Superior.

She is the narrative voice who propels the story forward and seems totally in control at all times- aquamarine facial hair notwithstanding. Her line delivery often generates huge reactions from the audience, whether they be laughs or tears.

She is a commanding presence on stage and is well suited to the role.

Robyn Sinclair as Lucky

Lucky, (played by Robyn Sinclair) as the name suggests, is a character who has lived a charmed life.

She is self assured and unafraid.. Her arc throughout the show is very complex and Sinclair gives a nuanced performance that reflects that perfectly.

Trouble (Stephanie Hockley ) is Lucky’s sister who, ironically, does her best to keep her family safe.

She indulges in her vices and feels no shame. Hockley is extremely natural in this role and her talent shines through.

She is naturally funny and fits in flawlessly with the rest of the cast.

Treasure (Patrycja Kujawska) is the grief stricken mother of Lucky and Trouble.

She struggles to reclaim her identity now that she is without her husband and her daughters.

Her performance is raw and authentic and you truly believe she is a woman who wants her daughters to be happy, but above all wants them to stay alive.

Kujawska is also an extremely talented violinist and she adds so much even when at the edges of the stage.

Each of these actors have an incredible connection. They work together effortlessly as and really feel like a tight knit family unit.

Incredible relationships

Infamous as Blue Beard may be, it is the strength of the relationship between these characters that really steals the show.

Lost Brother (Adam Mirsky) serves as an entry point for the audience, learning of the events and the wider context of the play as we do. Mirsky plays him with a palpable gentleness that makes the character very endearing.

The chemistry between Mirsky and Mirabelle Gremaud, who plays his older sister is so lovely to watch and their relationship feels extremely authentic. They bicker and play fight and generally get on each others nerves so naturally it is easy to believe they have been doing this their whole lives.

Gremaud’s portrayal as the self sacrificing older sister is bittersweet because it’s so realistic. She is charming because she feels like she could be anyone you know. She fights with her little brother and struggles to open up. Despite this, you cannot help but wish her the best as Gremaud gives her so much warmth and emotion.

Tristan Sturrock as the eponymous Blue Beard makes an excellent villain. He is equal parts suave and slimy, easily detestable but still charismatic enough to be watchable. He switches between cartoonish and actually terrifying with aplomb. These two contrasting sides of his character make the other seem all the more menacing. This combination makes him a throughly unsettling caricature while still feeling like every awful man you’ve ever met.

One of the most striking things about Blue Beard is the use of mixed media (sound and video designed by Simon Baker) to further emphasise certain moments. This is really impactful as it is used sparingly and it helps to ground the story.

Designed by Vicki Mortimer, the sparse set manages to create an atmosphere and a world that felt lived in and tangible despite being very simple. Everything on stage is extremely stylised so the show has an extremely specific and identifiable visual presence.

Blue Beard at Home tickets

Blue Beard is at once surreal and true to life. It mixes the nonsensical with the all too real, this culminates in a gut punch of a story that will stay with you for long after it’s over.

Blue Beard is at HOME Manchester until Saturday 24th February. Tickets are available here

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