Review: Blue Surge – sadness runs at the surface

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With its powerful showing earlier this year with Prodigals, there were definitely high expectations going into Twenty Something Theatre’s Blue Surge, now on stage at Studio 16.  But where Prodigals succeeded so well in connecting me with its characters, I struggled with any real connection here.

Curt (Jeremy Leroux), a small town cop becomes involved with 18-year old prostitute Sandy (Megan McGeough) after a raid on the massage parlor where she works turning tricks.  Problem is, Curt is engaged to Beth (Claire Lindsay) and has a hard time explaining his attachment to the young hooker to his fiancé.  Curt’s best friend and fellow cop, Doug (Chris Rosamond) soon becomes involved with Sandy’s irresponsible roommate Heather (Tara Pratt).

While playwright Rebecca Gilman provides a strong framework with her play exploring class and the consequences we reap from the decisions we make, that framework is not supported adequately, with some performances failing to reach the depths necessary for us to really care.

Leroux does a decent job as the conflicted Curt, trying to decide between his relationship with Beth and in his desire to help Sandy, but I wanted to see more of an internal struggle as he comes to understand his motivations.  McGeough tries desperately to portray the young prostitute hardened by circumstance but fails to deliver the depth of character to give us the necessary vulnerability that lies just beneath her thin veneer.  Together, I never felt the uneasy tension that is demanded of their character’s relationship.

Lindsay, Rosamond and Pratt all attack their own characters with gusto.  Lindsay is perhaps given the least to work with by playwright Gilman, which is a real shame as when she is called upon, she delivers beautifully.  Rosamond and Pratt are nice counterpoints to the more serious relationships around them.

Blue Surge
Tara Pratt (Heather) and Chris Rosamond (Doug) in Blue Surge.  Photo by Emily Cooper.

At times the pacing of the show felt a bit off, hampered in part by the various scene changes which usually involved only moving a couple tables and in Jonathan Tsang’s somewhat awkward bar set.

It isn’t until the beginning of the second act that the meaning of the play’s title is revealed as the mistaken interpretation of Duke Ellington’s song “Blue Serge”.  Described by Curt as having a “surge of blueness; like a sadness”, the melancholy runs deep.  For me though, it just wasn’t deep enough.

3 out of 5 Stars Blue Surge
Studio 16, 1545 West 7th Avenue
Through 5 September 2010

Tickets are $18 – $22 available via Tickets Tonight online or by calling 604-684-2787.

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