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Brightest Red to Blue ~ Review by Whitney Moran

Brightest Red to Blue
Written by Graham Percy, Directed by Natasha MacLellan
Performed by Forerunner Playwrights Theatre

“Oh never weep for love that’s dead/Since love is seldom true/But changes his fashion from blue to red/From brightest red to blue”- Elizabeth Siddal, “Dead Love”

Poetic. Macabre. Deliriously funny. Forerunner Playwrights Theatre’s premiere of Brightest Red to Blue is at once “a drunken howl at the moon” (Playwright’s Notes) as well as a physical and philosophical rumination on the plight of the failing artist at the loss of his Muse.

Dante Gabriel Rossetti (Jeremy Webb), desperate to once again don the laurels of a poet, hatches a plan with his counterpart and pre-Raphaelite brother Algernon Swinburne (John Beale) that involves a séance, grave-digging, and domestic disputes with his dead wife and former muse, Lizzie Siddal (Jamie Konchak). Seasoned and impeccably cast, “Gaby” bursts on stage appearing like a Victorian junkie from a Tim Burton film and performs with an innate artistry and conviction—always maintaining that telltale Rossetti stare—while Swinburne keeps the audience enraptured with his quirks, quips, and astounding facial expressions that only improve as the wine in the graveyard flows.

The set is brilliantly comprised almost entirely of a palimpsest of paper covered in Rossetti-inspired images and text, turning the stage into a veritable collage with the impression that the characters are literally walking between pages. While they’re not busy digging up poems these lively and captivating characters are struggling to capture beauty and truth in paintings and conversation. Most of all this small but intrepid production left me with the impression that I had truly witnessed something unique, fleeting as a flame, and as such impossible to capture in words. Instead I quote a line from one of Lizzie’s final monologues that sums up my Rossetti-inspired writer’s block, “paper is so frail don’t you think? For all we ask of it?”

May 27th, 8pm
May 28t-29th, 2pm & 8pm.
North Street Church, 5657 North Street, Halifax.
To reserve tickets, call: 902.497-6654

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