The Brilliance of “Blackbird”

Michelle Heffernan Reports

‘Blackbird’ by David Harrower will run at the Theatre Royal from June 28th to the 30th and tells the compelling story of a young woman confronting the man who sexually abused her when she was 12 years old. Starring Tudors’ actor and Hollywood old-hand Anthony Brophy, as well as the gorgeous thespian Maria Guiver, this is a performance of outstanding quality, exploring powerfully theconflicting emotions of love, loss, fear and anger that storm an abusive relationship. “It does what I think great plays try to do”, says Anthony Brophy, “it asks questions of us that we don’t want to answer”.
The Tudors’ actor will play the part of Ray, the now 55-year-old man who is confronted by 27-year-old Una, the woman he abused 15 years earlier. Having changed his name and moved out of state, this character was trying to forget the past and is now confronted with an angry, scared, yet attached and disillusioned woman, who digs up the paedophile profile he was trying so hard to deny. While other actors may shy away from such a loathed role, Anthony is not the least reluctant. “I’ve worked with Ben Barnes (Director) before, he says. “He knows I’m always up for a challenge”. Having begun his movie career with “In The Name of the Father” alongside Daniel Day Lewis, and having worked most recently with Mel Gibson, Anthony said he wasn’t put off by the difficulty of this character but acknowledged that acting is more about testing your abilities than playing it safe.
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“The hardest part of being an actor is not getting to be an actor,” he says. “You learn the lines and commit to being there and figure it out as you go along.”
Anthony’s co-star Maria Guiver is equally excited to be performing in such a powerful and provocative play. “I felt drawn to this role straight away” says the British-American actress. “I had a funny feeling with this one”. A recent graduate of the prestigious Lir Academy for Acting in Dublin, Maria is delighted to be cast on what she believes is “one of the best pieces of writing I’ve ever had the pleasure to work on”. And as a young attractive actress in a business recently rocked by accusations of sexual misconduct, Maria feels this play is extremely pertinent. “With the recent #MeToo movement and the accompanying accounts of sexual harassment, the play is more relevant than ever,” she said.
“It deals with the subject of power and position being abused and I think that is an important story to tell”. While Maria admits that performing the role of the abused has been “emotionally exhausting” she believes that Una’s story, the story of the groomed adolescent in particular, is an important narrative to examine. “Whilst Una is a victim of abuse” Maria says, “many of the feelings that have prevented her from moving on with her life are more universal and will resonate with a lot of people. The circumstances are not black and white which is what makes the play so fascinating. She is dealing with feelings of rejection and abandonment but also love.” The character Una, now 27, really believed that this much older man had loved her when she was 12 years old. She is demanding answers from her abuser but not quite sure what she wants them to be. “There is a huge sense of loss as well” Maria explains further, “as both characters feel some sort of loss for a future they feel was denied them.”

Maria Guiver and Anthony Brophy who will star in 'Blackbird' at the Theatre Royal.

Maria Guiver and Anthony Brophy who will star in 'Blackbird' at the Theatre Royal.


Undoubtedly Blackbird embodies theatre in its truest form, a method for us to explore the foibles and flaws of humanity and the complexity of our own consciousness.
The audience can expect to see “a serious challenging thoughtful piece of writing,” says Anthony “that I sometimes fear, is fast disappearing from our cultural landscape. “I would book a ticket to this thrilling night of theatre”. Maria concluded: “It’s going be a rollercoaster of emotions,” adding: “Right from the start, the dynamic between the characters and the shift of power is fascinating to watch. They go through so much and it’s their flaws that will really draw you to them but also make you question who you sympathise with.”
Blackbird is unquestionably going to be entertaining, jarring and thought provoking, which, in my humble opinion, is exactly what great theatre should do.

Book your tickets for Blackbird at the Theatre Royal Waterford by calling 051- 8774402 or visiting theatreroyal.ie/events. Tickets are priced €19 ( €17) concession. The play commences at 8pm.

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