Whether you are waiting for, reminiscing about, or suffering through your angsty teenage years, Blueberry Play will certainly feel incredibly familiar, touching on that little part in each of us that connects us all as awkward teenagers. Entertaining, enlightening, and incredibly close to home, Blueberry Play was everything a coming of age play should be.
The show told the story of Mary, a seventeen-year-old girl living in a small Australian country town, as she navigates the social challenges of adolescence, her journey with a new boy Brandon, and her struggles with her unwell and barely-coping father.
Mary’s character was played by Julia Robertson, who’s warm and personable stage presence delightfully captured her audience. Both the clever and quick script and her measured delivery perfectly captured the common essence of every teenage experience with a sense of purity and raw emotion.
The true beauty of the show lies in its unforgiving intimacy with the audience, which consisted of around thirty to forty people. The set, too, was minimal, using only a small brick wall. The resulting tight space and simplicity culminated in very few avenues for the audience to escape, thereby forcing us to invest in Mary’s story. This type of intimacy was certainly awkward at times, especially during scenes where you accidentally make eye contact whilst she mimes giving a hand job. On the flip-side, that awkwardness allowed the audience to connect with the tender moments: thrust into her world, it created a feeling of closeness that can only be achieved in small shows like this.
The play provided a unique and frighteningly accurate depiction of the inside of a teenage girl’s mind. The universal experiences of being seventeen are explored, addressing concepts like first-time experiences, pressure from friends and the extremely unjustified but deeply-rooted feeling that you are the only person in the world who has ever felt this way.
Comical and cringe-worthy at times, it was also addressed more serious aspects and elegantly explored topics such as family dynamics, domestic violence and mental illness. The heaviness of these topics was cut with the playful use of sound and visuals, ending scenes of violent outbursts with gifs of Dave-the-old-fat-lab wearing a rainbow cape.
Blueberry Play is not necessarily show stopping or life changing. However, it certainly transcended time and place, highlighting the universality of our adolescence and allowing everyone to relate to Mary, and therefore each other. I enjoyed every moment of this play: it achieved a balance of fresh originality and familiarity that continually kept me invested.
Blueberry Play runs until the 27th of January as part of the 2019 FRINGE WORLD Festival. More information can be found here.
Words by Megan Dodd