Theatre Review: Blue Fence

An artist on the cusp of success has a life changing stroke in thought provoking drama BLUE FENCE at the Pleasance Theatre in Islington. A tight script and bold direction make for a memorable show.

HEATHER O’Shea’s new play Blue Fence at the Pleasance is an absorbing consideration of how disability changes the way we see the world.

Commissioned by the Stroke Association, it follows an artist, Claire (Flora Nicholson), who, having just landed a contract to make a sculpture for the 2012 Olympics and an intriguing new boyfriend to boot, is struck down by a stroke. As her friends, family, patrons and employees argue over what’s best for her, Claire must learn to cope with a changed vision (in every sense of the word).

The subject matter evokes some powerful performances from the three-strong cast, particularly Antonia Kinlay, who is by turns aloof, warm and maddening as the woman from the Olympic committee, Claire’s flatmate and Claire’s sister in-law. Nicholson, too, is powerful, although the decision not to show the effects of stroke on speech or facial expression feels a tad squeamish.

Less convincing is Thomas Hunt, who, though strong as Claire’s maverick artist boyfriend, struggles to articulate the distinction between her assistant and her brother, sometimes leaving the audience struggling to work out who he is.

However, a tight, witty script and some bold directing from Francesca Seely, together with an imaginative set consisting of mobile posts hung with ribbons in the Olympic colours, make for a lively and memorable show. As the Games mania builds over the coming year, there are unlikely to be many plays that give the Greatest Show On Earth such a thought-provoking slant.


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* Showing at the Pleasance Theatre in Carpenters Mews, North Road, N7 until Saturday, March 12