Blackbird Unsettles at the Gamm
The production centers on the fallout of relationship between a girl and man.
Fifteen years have passed since forty-year-old Ray left twelve-year-old Una alone in the room of a guest house, but nothing was ever the same again for either of them.
That’s the premise of a harrowing production of Blackbird, currently playing at the Gamm Theatre in Pawtucket. Based on the drama by Scottish playwright David Harrower and directed by Tony Estrella, it was drawn from the true story of an ex-Marine who sexually abused a young girl.
In the fictionalized version, Una (Madeleine Lambert) has tracked down Ray (Jim O’Brien) in the town where he now works. Now age twenty-seven, she spotted Ray’s photo in a trade magazine. He has since taken on a new identity, and has tried to put his past behind him.
Only it’s clear that neither of them has gotten beyond the string of events that began when Una’s father invited Ray to a barbecue and he first encountered the twelve-year-old. She seemed wise beyond her years, and they soon began chatting and meeting in parks. Reliving their shared history in the dirty break room at the factory where Ray now works, they spiral from accusations of abuse to indications that their feelings for one another are still unresolved.
Una’s recollection of what happened the night Ray took her to a guest house, had sex with her and left, promising to return, only to cause her to wander the streets looking for him, is some of the most searing material in the play. It led to a trial, his imprisonment,, and complete distrust of Una by her parents.
It’s unsettling to watch them alternately accuse and comfort each other. And the ending leaves the question hanging of whether history could repeat itself.
Blackbird is playing through June 1. Tickets range from $38-$48. 172 Exchange St., Pawtucket, 401-723-4266, gammtheatre.org.