The Ustinov Studio has once again given audiences the privilege of a vibrant piece of drama that, without question, deserves a life beyond this run.
Whilst the play may be 10 years old, the relevance of inherent, endemic racism is ever present in our media. Barfield focuses on an African American man and his battles through the torturous history of his family.
The legacy they have left him lives on in a troubled society that seems to fail continually to find any answers which in turn is the brutal and uncomfortable truth that the production deftly reflects.
The exceptional and precise direction (Eleanor Rhode) ensures that the action is fluid and makes beautiful measure of the extended monologues as the tales from history come to the fore through the many characters portrayed by the two cast members.
The central role, Lewis (Ray Fearon) is a published, mathematics professor whose white wife of 25 years has decided to leave him as he will not attend the Million Man March.
This historic event was a march by African American men to highlight economic and social issues facing them. Lewis is not a politically motivated man; he desires to be academically accepted for his work and by those around him.
One evening he is visited by his Grandfather and Great Grandfather who were raised as slaves. In the turmoil they bring, Lewis is forced to reconsider conversations he has had with his father and his own place in society.
Fehinti Balogun is outstanding as the multi role playing actor. The effortless switch between characters and generations is utterly engaging and a sharp contrast to the fixed views of Lewis.
This young and relatively inexperienced actor is surely on the threshold of great things. The two men create a chemistry and relationship that is binding and true. There are many questions asked that simply cannot be answered by the majority of the audience.
Lewis wonders if the people he is visiting will know if he is black? His father dressed in a dinner jacket at a family celebration is treated as staff by the academic friends. These deep seated issues are harsh and cause unease, rightly so.
The use of original music composed by Harrison White is evocative and drives the piece with ease.
The Ustinov ensures that the season exploded into life with a production that will challenge much debate by all who watch. They will never shy away from difficult conversations and the masterclass performances are reason alone to experience this excellent drama.
_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _
Reviewer: Petra Schofield
Blue Door, starring Ray Fearon and Fehinti Balogun, is directed by Eleanor Rhode, and is showing at the Ustinov Studio in Bath until Saturday 9th March 2019.
For more information, and tickets, visit the Theatre Royal website.