Blue: grief, pain, loss, and love
Thomas Weatherall’s writing and theatrical debut is heartbreaking, passionate and devastating.
Rising to fame in the remake of Heartbreak High, Kamilaroi actor Thomas Weatherall captivates in his debut through his self-written solo show, Blue.
Blue explores a young man’s journey through the ups and downs of mental health and all that life has to offer, in the form of a personal and intimate monologue.
Weatherall portrays the character ‘Mark’, and invites the audience to witness the accumulation of grief, sorrow, pain, love, passion, that leaves you feeling hollow and empty after exiting the theatre.
Upon entering the intimate theatre room, Weatherall intrigues the audience with his unique, intimate and insightful stage setup. We learn that the central motif of the production is the ocean, reflected through the wave-like shape of the stage. The surface of the stage is texturized, creating the illusion of ripples and further reinforcing the motif.
Weatherall regularly utilises an inbuilt shallow pool in the centre of the stage. Despite initial confusion and surprise at the stage design, it proved to be a powerful tool in emphasising his personal stories and experiences. As the play progresses, more of the pool is stripped away, mimicking the gradual revelations of Mark’s perceptions.
The Kamilaroi actor gracefully utilises the entire stage space. With the help of props, such as the regularly used chair, Weatherall captivates the audience by climbing on top of the chair, flipping it over and even at one point throwing it across the stage, allowing him to explore the entire floor space and ensuing range of emotions.
The 22-year-old actor’s writing debut proves to be powerful and impressive. Weatherall revealed in an interview with the Guardian that in an attempt to develop a coping mechanism for his depression following his final year of high school, he began writing, unaware that the final product would result in his “personal fiction,” Blue.
As a result, Blue feels to be an imitation of real life. Mark’s anxious blabbering to avoidant conversation styles creates a piece that wholly illustrates human reactions to bereavement and declining well-being.
Although Weatherall provides an evocative performance, a deeper exploration of the relationship between Mark and his father would have given a more robust understanding of family dynamics, and a sense of completion.
Moreover, whilst the heartwarming moments recreated with Mark’s brother John provided a rare view into the scarce moments of happiness in Mark’s life, the flashbacks were limited and somewhat underexplored. Regardless, these recollections proved to be the best moments of the play.
Blue forms a part of Sydney Festival’s Blak Out program. The 2023 project features stories that are “personal, profound and intimate alongside big stories about legacy and land,” presented by First Nations artists. Blak Out’s intention is to leave you “inspired, provoked and challenged” which Blue succeeds, forcing you to face your own feelings surrounding familial love and loss.
Overall, Weatherall’s writing debut was successful and emotional in its ability to convey the relatable and complicated emotions of grief, pain, loss and love. The young actor, through his play Blue, opens up the conversation into being more candid towards mental health and accepting changes life throws at you, despite how jarring they may be.
Blue is playing at the Belvoir Theatre in Surry Hills until January 29. Tickets are available here.