Seven Dials Theatre, London, until March 30,
Writer: June Carryl
Director: Michael Matthews
Cast: June Carryl and John Colella
Running time: one hour
Producer: No Boundaries Theatrical Productions in association with Seven Dials Playhouse

George Floyd’s murder in May 2020, which triggered waves of Black Lives Matter protests, together with the U.S. Capitol attacks of January 2021, when off-duty police officers were found to be among the rioters, inspired June Carryl to write Blue.

It’s an expose of systemic failure that speaks first of all to the U.S.  public, that won acclaim at the Edinburgh Fringe and is now shaking London audiences out of any lingering complacency they may nurture on the basis that the British police force kills fewer Black people than its U.S. equivalent and that multi-culturalism has defused extremity.

Directed by Michael Matthews, entirely convincing, expertly paced acting builds the tension to an almost murderous pitch and combines the power of courtroom drama with the claustrophobic menace of the police interrogation room.

For an intense hour, our focus is a set comprising breeze block walls, a water cooler, a table, two chairs and an antiquated tape recorder, and two LAPD officers – Carryl as Parker, the accuser, and John Colella as Sully, the accused.

Apart from the hundreds of years of white, male-dominated history that make a Black woman the natural enemy of a white man, passions are inflamed still more because initially there is an illusion of friendship.

Sully is the ex-partner of Parker’s husband.  They’ve known each other for years.  He has been a cop for decades and perhaps if they were two white men dealing with this awkward investigation, his shooting of an unarmed Black motorcyclist could be brushed aside as an unfortunate accident.

They share a joke or two.  There is the business of finding jumbo-sized batteries for the tape recorder.  After that, it goes from bad to worse.  Sully’s alleged crime was no one-off incident.  Similarly, the cause of the Capitol riots can be traced back over years and Parker’s loathing of everything the man sitting, standing, pacing before her in his best suit represents has deep roots.  It was high time it found its voice.

Barbara Lewis © 2024.