As the audience enters the Cellar at the Pleasance Courtyard each individual is given a small brown envelope that has the words ‘Open me at the end’ delicately scrawled on it. From the get go Back to Blackbrick comes over as a mysterious and curious performance, but can this feeling last the duration of the show?
We are told the story of Cosmo and her relationship to her Grandfather, who is suffering from Alzheimer’s. Their connection is deep and touching and sets the emotional tone of the performance. Back to Blackbrick is based on the book of the same name by Sarah Moore Fitzgerald and is a story that looks at memories and how the past can determine the future. The story is set in Ireland and Cosmo must venture to Blackbrick and travel back in time to experience her Grandfathers past.
To the side of the stage two musicians perform the soundtrack to the show and add sound and foley effects. This works well as music is very much a big part of the performance. The first twenty minutes of the show feel like a musical as powerful songs evoking Irish folk music move the story forward and set the scene. These songs feel absent in the second half of the performance, where dialogue and drama are used as a storytelling device. Here the pace of the performance slows down and and the fantasy and mystery that the story relies on feels a bit lost.
When Back To Blackbrick concludes there is no mention of the envelope that audience members were given at the start. It is up to us to open them up and discover some additional secrets behind the story. Patch of Blue Theatre are a talented company who combine song and storytelling in interesting ways. Back To Blackbrick covers many themes, but the core theme of fantasy didn’t quite last the full hour.