Review: Blue Wizard (Belvoir St Theatre)

belvoirVenue: Belvoir St Theatre (Surry Hills NSW), Feb 19 – Mar 15, 2015
Playwright: Nick Coyle
Dramaturg: Adena Jacobs
Cast: Nick Coyle
Image by Lisa Tomasetti

Theatre review
Post-apocalyptic stories are intrinsically moralistic. They make us think about our actions today that may lead to the utter devastation that is being presented. In Blue Wizard, an alien arrives from outer space but there is no longer any sign of human inhabitation. He is stranded, alone, except for an egg and its subsequent incarnations. Blue Wizard is unfamiliar with our planet but the very human-like visitor’s quest for survival and his disorientation are instantly recognisable, and our empathy for the misplaced being is effectively cultivated by an intuitively playful script by Nick Coyle. He declares upon arrival that he hails from a planet where all are gay, establishing a parallel with our own need for identity definitions based on sexuality orientation. Indeed, the one-man show is filled with cultural signifiers of male gayness and their affectations. Music by Britney Spears, Karen Carpenter and Cher add inspiration to the already camp sensibility of the artist, and his costuming, which is derivative of transvestism and drag.

The staging relies heavily on its talented team of designers to deliver a compelling context in which the action takes place. Damien Cooper’s lights are often show-stealing, and Steve Toulmin’s music and sound provide some of the most entertaining moments of the piece. Coyle’s performance is quirky and lighthearted, with the actor’s mischievous presence providing the absurd comedy with a playfulness that helps make the narrative strangely believable. His skills as a puppeteer are most impressive, with characterisations of the young aliens, Grubby and “Meryl Streep”, leaving powerful and lasting impressions. Dramaturg Adena Jacobs has guided Blue Wizard from its previous frankly bizarre manifestation when performed some seventeen months ago at PACT Centre for Emerging Artists, to its current form which is an engaging and brightly humorous show that sometimes surprises us, but always thoroughly amusing.

There is a sincere and earnest expression that underlies the frivolous tone of the production, and while its deeper meanings, if they do exist, are unclear, we do not feel as though we had been taken for a hollow ride. The moral of the story is one that the audience can decide for itself, but it is work of this nature that recalls the eternal question of whether art needs to serve any specific purpose. In other words, what is taken away from the theatre on this occasion is probably a lot more about the viewer than the creator.