4/19/2013 7:32 PM
The two one-act plays in Blue Heart – Blue Kettle and Heart’s Desire – are perfect for each other.
In Heart’s Desire, a mother and a father wait anxiously for their adult daughter to come home. She is late, and as they wait they imagine every thing that could have gone wrong. She decided not to come home after all; she doesn’t really love them; her identity was stolen; terrorists shot her. After each possibility, the play restarts. She got lost – that couldn’t have happened –start over. She comes home but she’s drunk – impossible – start over. At one moment, time literally stops: all actors stand frozen for thirty seconds. Start over. The play beautifully describes the agony of worrying about someone you love.
In Blue Heart, Derek approaches a series of older women and convinces them he is their long lost son. They believe and love him for it. As the play progresses, language slowly falls apart. Churchill replaces every other word with “blue” or “kettle.” For instance: “What’s the kettle? Blue the kettle with her, Derek?” By the last scene, even “blue” and “kettle” are reduced to “bl-“, and “k-”. The characters, unable to communicate, sputter gibberish.
Both pieces are very smart and entertaining. In Heart’s Desire, form and content are wedded seamlessly: the device of starting over clearly illustrates the endlessness of waiting. Blue Heart is a little messier. Derek’s charade as the lost son of some lonely ladies is not obviously connected to the breakdown of language. This does not necessarily make the piece worse – but ambiguous and more difficult.