The first thing to say about Sebastian Barry’s play On Blueberry Hill is that it is one of the most well constructed, completely formed and totally rounded piece of riveting theatre I’ve seen in a while. This mesmerising two hander – starring Niall Buggy as Christy and David Ganly as PJ – about two serving prisoners in the infamous Mountjoy prison in the centre of Dublin, is just stunning.
Barry’s clever use of separating the two actors by getting them to deliver their individual stories as the other actor sits in a diffused almost black half light is immaculate and director Jim Culleton creates a quirky and at times very funny atmosphere as the play unfolds and as we realise that the two men have something very much in common. No spoiler alert from me.
The play becomes more than just a play but a wonderful observation about life beliefs, remembering past times and nostalgia and what might have been regarding past love affairs and relationships; that if they go wrong they can place you in predicament that overwhelms and puts you, as in this case, in prison as the law must be seen to be administered and a suitable punishment awarded.
These two very fine actors executed their roles in such an elegant and precise way they are like two masculine birds in a cage, where compassion and understanding of the eventual guilt they both feel for their actions and what they did, and how that impacted and affected other people, is superbly presented.
This is truly timeless theatre; staggering performances, a captivating use of language that gives the play a pulse and rhythm that is totally absorbing.
A very thoughtful look at male bonding.
Photos by Marc Brenner