Julian Felice's 'The Blue Whale' has come straight from Gibraltar and we are lucky to be able to witness this piece of theatre in the UK! After reading Julian's interview with Adventures In Theatreland, I was excited for the opportunity to see this play. The whole concept had enticed me. 'Let's play!' - Tasha meets Lewis online and asks him to undertake ten challenges to test his commitment to her. Desperate to prove his worthiness of love, he willingly accepts. What starts off as relatively pointless challenges, gradually develops to ones with debatable motives. The slow build emphasised the intensity of the high stakes that were later faced. Will Lewis go against what is intrinsically within him in order to 'win' Tasha's love?
The staging was minimal with just a stool, office chair, high table, and a few props, but this was all that was needed. I clearly understood the locations of the scenes and when they changed, aided by the effortless split stage blackouts (Emma De Cruce). This simplicity allowed me to appreciate the script and the story, rather than be distracted by anything more elaborate.
Lewis’ vulnerable side was unleashed as the stakes increased. I would never have expected all the pent up angst that had been building within him. My heart ached as he faced his inner conflicts. Sam Bush certainly showed range and growth as he was initially presented as a ‘lad’s lad’, but he developed into this complex character who was struggling with the relationships in his life. Natalie Bonavia’s performance as Tasha was very interesting. Despite being an extremely demanding individual, her approach was soft. For sure a manipulative, egotistical personality, her varying vocal delivery made me question if there was hope for her character to change.
Karl (Chris Ablitt) highlighted the importance of human connection. As his one and only friend, he was a truly important person to Lewis. Loyalty was tested throughout. An initially undoubtedly strong friendship was jeopardised as the challenges of ‘The Blue Whale’ game escalated. I really bought into his character, albeit a complicated person, he strived for redemption and he was determined to do the right thing. I instantly liked Chris’s portrayal of Karl, there was a real genuineness to him.
Battling with intrigue as the plot progressed, the tension suddenly exponentially escalated. I was left paralysed in shock with where the story ended. Once the performance concluded, I had to take some time to comprehend that what happened, actually happened. I don’t want to spoil the show as I hope it gets a prolonged life in the UK and more people can experience it. Though let me tell you, my mouth was gawping open with the decisions that were made by each of the characters. High tension throughout, I was continuously kept on edge, wondering if the sensible or risky choices would be made.
How far would you go to prove yourself to somebody? Do you really know what your heart prioritises? Romance, friendship, or morals?
AD | gifted tickets in return for an honest review | reviewed by Carly Nicklin (@stageychaos)