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[Original size] BLACK BIRD (2).png


By David Harrower
Directed by Pip Thoroughgood


880 Hunter St, Newcastle West 2302


De Wit

The Play

Blackbird is a play by Scottish playwright David Harrower. It premiered at the Edinburgh International Festival in 2005 and later transferred to London's West End. The play received critical acclaim and won the Laurence Olivier Award for Best New Play.

The story revolves around Una and Ray, who had an illegal sexual relationship in their past. The play picks up 15 years later, as Una confronts Ray at his workplace. Their reunion dredges up unresolved emotions and explores the complexities of their past relationship, including issues of power, consent, and trauma.


It is a raw and unflinching exploration of complex human emotions and relationships. Harrower delves into themes of power dynamics, trauma, and the intricacies of love and obsession with a compelling intensity that leaves audiences both unsettled and captivated. The play's haunting narrative challenges preconceived notions of morality and invites deep reflection on the darker aspects of the human psyche. With powerful performances and a gripping storyline, Blackbird offers a theatrical experience that is both thought-provoking and unforgettable.

Director's Note

When I first came in contact with Blackbird I was 16 years old. I was on a High School trip to New York and I was watching Jeff Daniels and Michelle Williams rip my heart out and blow my mind and wake me up. When they bowed I thought “we don’t need this, go rest, you’re exhausted”. Blackbird has stayed with me throughout my life since then. When I realised, not too long after, how my own life had mirrored that of Una’s in some ways I held Blackbird as a powerful sticking place. It reminded me I wasn’t alone, it wasn’t my fault. Now, entering this round of my career, 25 and far more experienced, I revisit Blackbird to discover just how deeply nuanced a play it is. Not only does Harrower investigate trauma through the lens of pain or regret but through betrayal and yearning. Charlotte, Phil and I are investigating how much we can toy with this yearning. What still survives between these two and how do we sit in this uncomfortable understanding of being groomed? Not just what it feels like but how it can last far beyond crime and punishment. I’m looking to build a sense of play and experimentation between these two (luckily the already existing chemistry between Phil and Charlotte has made this task relatively easy). A push and pull between this dangerous unknown territory needs to be alive for this play to work. We’re forgoing any sense of right and wrong or good and bad and simply existing in want and need. These two have wants no one would ever admit to having; they have ruined lives, barely rebuilt on flimsy supports and they’re going to sing and dance and kiss as they bring it all back down again. 16 year old Pip needed to know Una and Ray. So many people need to know what grooming looks like, feels like, sounds like. So they can see it, hopefully so they can avoid it.

- Pip Thoroughgood

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