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Blue Heart - Collection / Anthology, Comedy

Blue Heart

Caryl Churchill

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Collection / Anthology, Comedy

2m, 7f

ISBN: 9781559361545

"Welcome to the world of Caryl Churchill, a playwright who has long experimented with theatrical forms, and who may have reached a new height with ... Blue Heart." - N.Y. Daily News

"Anyone watching the short, self sabotagi…

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Collection / Anthology


Consists of Heart's Desire and Blue Kettle, related short plays that are teasingly entertaining and brilliantly executed. Not what they seem, the plays possess catastrophic cores that disrupt and destroy.
"Welcome to the world of Caryl Churchill, a playwright who has long experimented with theatrical forms, and who may have reached a new height with ... Blue Heart." - N.Y. Daily News

"Anyone watching the short, self sabotaging plays ... is likely to feel a steady, rushing exhilaration. Ms. Churchill is the possessor of one of the sharpest and most restless theatrical imaginations in the world.... A doggedly reassertive life force is evident in Blue Heart, giving it an almost giddy vitality ... with residual emotional depth that keeps you thinking... Blue Heart plants seeds that keep germinating in your mind long after the plays are over." - N.Y. Times



2m, 7f

Caryl Churchill

Caryl Churchill

Caryl Churchill (born 1938) wrote her first play, Downstairs, while at Oxford University. It was staged in 1958 and won the award at the Sunday Times National Union of Students Drama Festival. Her plays have been performed on international stages, on the BBC radio, and adapted for BBC television. They include Light Shining in Buckinghamshire, Cloud Nine, Fen, Three More Sleepless Nights, Top Girls ... view full profile

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Steve Callahan 12/17/2016 12:25 PM
Each of these plays shows a promising premise, but for some reason the playwright burdens each with an arbitrary gimmick that ultimately swamps that promise and destroys the play.   (Perhaps she just hit  wall while developing them and clutched in desperation at these devices.)

In "Heart's Desire" we find the "restart" gimmick that David Ives used so wittily and meaningfully in his short "All in the Timing";  but Ms. Churchill employs it to no apparent end.  

In "Blue Kettle" the dialogue gradually disintegrates by the arbitrary and random substitution of the words "blue" and "kettle" (or syllables thereof) for meaningful words..  This renders the dialogue quite meaningless--and I should think next to impossible for an actor to learn.  

Milo Cramer 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.

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