The Blue Room

Last year, one of the hottest tickets in London was The Blue Room, David Hare's adaptation of Arthur Schnitzler's La Ronde, starring Nicole Kidman. Local theatre goers might recall a few seasons when back Hare's Racing Demon was performed at the Denver Center and La Ronde was performed at the Acoma Center.

Based on its racy reputation, The Blue Room, produced by The Theatre Group, is attracting crowds to The Phoenix Theatre, and for good reason. Director Nicholas Sugar has cast two attractive talents to portray the multiple male and female roles that form the basis of the ten liaisons that comprise this circular tale.

Sheila Ivy Traister, who should have been nominated for the Denver Drama Critics Circle Best Actress award for her performance last year in Shadow Theatre Company's Who's Afraid of Virginia Wolf, finds the perfect vehicle for her multifaceted talents, morphing, chameleon-like, from one instant to the next, changing ethnicities, personalities, dialects, and age with creative abandon. Traister's magnetic physical appeal is simply the icing on the cake.

David Russell, a prodigious actor and set designer himself, inhabits an equal number of trans-generational, multi-ethnic, cross-class characters, driven by an array of fantasies and urges representing the spectrum of male desire. Whether young or middle-aged, experienced or na´ve, Traister and Russell find a chemistry that works.

Director Sugar's staging, with each actor changing in-between dalliances on either side of the stage swathed in shafts of gossamer and pale blue light, adds intrigue and sexual tension to what otherwise would be prolonged blackouts.

The liaisons themselves, are not about love per se: they explore the disconnectedness of human coupling and the seemingly disparate needs brought to bear on relationships. While Hare's perspective may not be optimistic, his adaptation provides a depth and subtlety of character not found in the original, and unearths plenty of truth about the cross-purposes of male-female dynamics.

The Theatre Group's regional premiere of David Hare's The Blue Room, directed by Nicholas Sugar, at the Phoenix Theatre, runs through July. 303-860-9360.

Bob Bows


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