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  • Henry Longstaff

Blue Balloons Pink - Hope Theatre

A gender reveal that reveals more than planned


We’ve all seen the videos - anxious couples waiting to see what the sex of their unborn baby will be, on the precipice of a new life together as a family. Maggie and Ash are like most in this situation, doing their best despite the whirlwind of looming parenthood surrounding them. As old and new decisions surface how will they cope and can their relationship survive?

It’s the morning of the long-awaited baby shower and whilst Ash is excited, albeit a little overbearing, clutching his trusty notebook, Maggie is not keen and would rather the whole palaver was cancelled. The couple clash on varying topics including their parents, shopping and whether they are doing all they can to prepare for their baby’s upcoming arrival. Truths are spilt and fractures deepen.

Daisy Roe has crafted an engaging script that is as painful as it is entertaining (in a good way). For the most part, the plot is intriguing and refuses to hold back in its drama, though sometimes the dialogue weakens, resulting in repeated shouting matches between the two characters. There is little space between quiet monologues or tender moments and the blazing rows meaning we are left with little to no build-up to climatic junctures. As the play progresses this does improve and some of the sedated, off-hand lines deliver more punch than an entire bitter argument.

Roe also performs as Maggie in this production and she does so in a very natural and impressive way. Her monologues feel honest and she understands what her script is trying to say and conveys meaning extremely well. Opposite her is Ruaridh Adlington as Ash who successfully delivers on Ash’s blind intensity and willingness for everything to be as he planned. As a pair they work effectively though are sadly hampered at times by the text.

I found it hard at times to believe that Maggie and Ash were a real couple due to the innumerable differences and feuds between them. As more facts emerge it feels ludicrous that they have survived each other’s company for this length of time and therefore the play struggles with its realism. I could be completely wrong and have just not met enough couples like them but revelation after revelation became implausible. To counter this many of the elements that make up Maggie and Ash’s relationship are performed superbly. Important themes of manipulation and control leave you genuinely uncomfortable and agitated hours after the play has finished - both a testament to the writing and performances on show.

It feels wrong to call this play enjoyable because I am not sure it is. Instead Blue Balloons Pink is a dramatic and distressing insight into a couple in crisis. There are powerful and harrowing performances that are worth the trip to Camden alone but an ounce more focus on the core troubles would take this production to the next level.

It runs until 27 August - Tickets

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