Theater veteran Bart Guingona and Mikkie Bradshaw—Volante will portray the roles of Ray and Una in The Necessary Theater’s local adaptation of the Olivier Award for Best Play.
A deeply complex portrayal of two people whose ruined lives are inextricably intertwined, “Blackbird” is a play written in 2005 by Scottish playwright David Harrower.
It was inspired in part by the crimes of sex offender Toby Studebaker and depicts a young woman meeting a middle-aged man 15 years after being sexually abused by him when she was 12.
At his workplace, 55-year-old Ray is shocked to be visited by a young woman, 27-year-old Una. Fifteen years earlier, he had sexually abused her. This relationship, which lasted three months and included intercourse, began and ended when Una was 12 and Ray was 40.
Ultimately, they ran off together, and, while Ray was taking time to compose himself after realizing what he had just done, he left her alone in a motel room. She got worried and left to find him, which led to both of them frantically searching for one another and raising suspicions within the small coastal town where they were staying.
Eventually, a couple out walking their dog took Una in and called the police after learning why she was there.
Ray was then arrested and imprisoned. Upon his release, he managed to establish a reasonably successful new life under another name, but Una recognized him in a photograph and tracked him down.
Ray takes Una to the office break room, where the two engage in a long and difficult confrontation involving Una’s continuing struggles to understand and come to terms with the abuse and her intensely conflicting emotions, which pivot between anger, curiosity, confusion, and even a persistent attachment to Ray, whom Una loved—and she believed that he loved her.
The fearful Ray, who is himself trying to forget the past and the potential feelings he had for Una, parries her demanding questions and descriptions of her feelings and experiences, all the while uncertain of her intentions.
A film adaptation of the play titled “Una,” which stars Rooney Mara as Una and Ben Mendelsohn as Ray, premiered in September 2016 at the Telluride Film Festival.
The play will be running until September 10 at Carlos P. Romulo Auditorium in RCBC Plaza, Makati.