Ten minutes into the performance Una asked Ray if he has sex with any other 12 year olds. The tension that slowly was created up to that point suddenly turned up to a whole new level and it never slowed down. Blackbird at the Great Scott Theater in Los Angeles is a performance that will take you on a roller coaster ride of emotions.
The performance opens up with Una (Cali Fleming) surprising Ray (Michael Connors) at his work and quickly leaves him stumbling over his words and leaving him clearly feeling awkward. We soon find out that 15 years earlier Ray had started an inappropriate relationship with a then 12-year old Una.
From that point on Cali puts on an amazing performance as she is able to showcase all of the different and feelings that have consumed here since that relationship ended. Cali gives a deeply emotional speech to Ray that gives him an insight into all that she went through once their relationship was found out. While Ray was in jail, Cali felt equally imprisoned as she was judged by her family, neighbors and also lost all of her friends.
Michael was equally brilliant bringing all of the emotions of his character to the stage. His character Ray went from defensive to angry to scared and then finally admitting that he still thinks about Una and then they begin to come together again intimately before Ray stops and says he can’t.
A final twist to the play comes when Ray’s family comes looking for him and his stepdaughter knocks at the door of the breakroom that Ray and Una have been in this entire time. The stepdaughter is confused as to who Una is and Ray finally convinces her to leave. At this point Ray tries to convince a distraught Una that he never had the feelings that he had for Una with his stepdaughter.
Finally Ray decides to leave Una by herself as he goes to his family. Una is left alone, crying and falls to the floor and leaving you to see the pain that has lingered with her for the past 15 years.
Blackbird at times can be very emotional and hard to watch as it brings the reality of adults having inappropriate relationships to the stage. Sometimes it is those uncomfortable settings that make you think the most and have the ability to bring those emotions to the people watching the performance. Blackbird is most definitely one of those plays that will make you think, make you feel and will leave an impression on you long after you leave the Great Scott Theater.
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