Lost in Blue, Lion and Unicorn

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Rating: 3 out of 5.

A man lies in a coma for 15 years. It becomes clear that his partner and child have left him for a life in Australia and are only now returning to Birmingham where he is cared for by his rich but lonely sister.

Lost in Blue is a play about connections – real and imagined, lost and found. Connections through blood, through marriage, through geography and art and kindness. It is about what those connections mean to us individually and the impact we have on each other – often without even really knowing it.

Deborah Newbold delivers this one woman show with comfort and confidence. She speaks directly to the audience at times – asking questions designed to elicit an affirmative response early on which brings us into empathy with her immediately. This too is a way of playing with the connection between performer and audience.

She also does most of her own tech, through a synthesizer type device on stage. I was, and remain, in two minds about this conceit. It was interesting and with the complexity of her constructed soundscape, probably essential that she had immediate control over each step. But at times my wonderings about the tech had my mind wandering away from the action of the storytelling.

Lost in Blue is at its best when it is clear and confident in itself. Where it occasionally falls down is where the writing feels unsure that the audience has come along with the metaphor at the heart of the piece – the colours of Van Gogh and their intrinsic relationship pulling together father and daughter in their art. As a result, it came back to this slightly too often and over-explained it a little.

The show overran its advertised time by quite some distance and I wonder if this again was due to a slight lack of confidence that would be misplaced in a slightly tighter edited piece. Newbold has a lovely, charming and wonderful piece of art here – but like her artisitic central character, she doesn’t always know when to step back and stop. There is, for example, a neighbour character that, while charming, felt extraneous.

All in all, Lost in Blue was a charming piece. I was willing it – and Newbold – to succeed and overall I enjoyed the experience and found it moving and thought provoking. I would like to see what could be done with the material if forced to sit in the shorter time frame it was advertised as, as I think the decisions that would have to be made would only strengthen and find the true gold within.

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