BLUE WATER AND COLD AND FRESH by Simon Stephens. ★★★★

BLUE WATER AND COLD AND FRESH by Simon Stephens. Tom Mothersdale gives an amazing performance with such ease and connection to character you feel as though this could be an expression of his own internal dialogue rather than Simon Stephens’ written portrayal. The monologue is from the perspective of a history teacher in 2020. As he talks, he wanders around a locked down London, commenting on the eeriness of the empty streets but finding liberation in the stillness.

We realise he is speaking to his late father – there is a briskness in his tone and we sense there is more of this relationship to be unravelled. He talks of his wife, Jennifer, carefully detailing the moment he met her. He tells us of his young son, Adam and the pure delight he feels when he picks him up and swings him around and around. “The best feeling” he smiles. He stops outside several houses where his father once lived evoking past conversations and confrontations. As well as this, he reminisces on his own exchanges, one in particular with Jennifer after a BLM protest in summer 2020. She asks him to recall trips to their local supermarket when the security guard had followed her and not him. He flashes forward to various future scenarios from the perspective of his son.  

We aren’t given an explanation for his hostility towards his father, aside from his detest towards his alcoholism, until nearing the end. He recalls the moment his father met his baby son and how he held him tenderly. As his father leaves, he fires racist abuse aimed at Jennifer via our narrator. The words are earth shattering and we can feel the desperation of the character to get away from the memory of the words. “I’m not him.”

Stephens’ monologue is captivating, heart wrenching and understated with an incredibly memorable and perceptive performance from Tom Mothersdale. Worth a watch.

At the Lyric until 24th July.

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