Colorado State University professor Eric Prince’s play “Blue Kitchen” premiered on April 1 at Bas Bleu theatre just north of Old Town, celebrating the theatre’s 25th anniversary.
“Blue Kitchen” is a gripping and unique play. Prince wrote and directed this one act, one actress show, featuring Irish-American immigrant Ava in an enchanting and dreamlike monologue filled with music, desperation and repressed trauma. Actress Wendy Ishii commands the stage and takes the audience on a wild journey through the landscapes of a complex and exuberant mind.
Ava finds herself in her blue kitchen before sunrise with nothing but her music, utensils and cookbooks to distract her from suppressed memories and a fatigued mind caused by a wary existence. Facing a dwindling sense of identity, even Ava’s upbeat and buoyant personality cannot defeat the looming pain in the wake of her life. Prince delicately and meticulously crafts his story around humor, identity and tragedy.
Somewhere between the Mick Jagger knife dances and traditional Irish ballads Prince finds the valves with which our identities and pain can be tapped, revealing a nuanced and distinct rendition of what it means to be human.
This Beckettesque show from the Beckett scholar himself is an artistic journey into the philosophy of the one-(wo)man show. This has allowed Prince to sculpt this character from the ground up, becoming more fascinating and complex with each passing moment and leaving the audience intrigued and at the edge of their seats.
Another way Prince’s show defies audience expectations is beginning the show with a traditional form of sharing poetry, music and prose: the Irish Craic. Prince, an English native himself, finds value and tranquility in the theater using this traditional method of engaging the audience. For about 45 minutes before the show musical performances, poems and prose selections were shared with the audience, settling the room down and catalyzing audience engagement.
“No matter whether it’s music, painting, photography, film, poetry, novels or the theatre, everyone in the arts has the same desire,” Prince said. “We’re all in the same family of people trying to express their feelings, trying to express their ideas.”
Prince also makes the decision to end the show with a traditional Irish ballad and the most poignant parts of his character come to life.
“It sets out as a recognition of the power of music and poetry,” Prince said. “It is all about the way music emulates and influences us. Music is permeating the thing. I wanted to explore the way in connects. It is about the power of song, the power of music to heal.”
Should you see it? Without a doubt.
Prince’s play is entertaining and cathartic. Bottom-line, it is a must see.
“Blue Kitchen” will be at the Bas Bleu theatre until April 30. Check their website for details.