The Light Burns Blue is a play performance running between 15-18 April at the Bristol Old Vic.
Based upon the story of the Cottingley Fairies, The Light Burns Blue is an imaginative interpretation of what lay behind the story, behind the characters, behind the intention, beyond the action. The play has come about as a collaborative effort between Tonic Theatre and Bristol Old Vic Young Company.
It’s a play that celebrates extraordinary women – extraordinary and forgotten, such as the character of Elsie Wright, the artsy teenager who got famous overnight and then hid from the world, and Winifred Douglas, the investigative journalist in search for truth and answers.
Set in 1917 – faithful to the original – with ever-changing mise-en-scene and with a cast of 20, The Light Turns Blue skilfully revived a world that’s both ancient and modern, a timeless universe of what it means to dream and yearn. By going back and forth in time, the play uses an engaging storytelling technique that keeps the audience’s eye intrigued and focused on the bits and pieces that make the story.
Apart from the obvious questions surrounding Cottingley Fairies, The Light Burns Blue touches upon other themes, the ever-lasting philosophical questions debated for centuries: why does one make art, what makes an artist, what classifies as art, and where does it come from.
This lies at the centre of the play; it’s the ‘mystery’, if you will. Expectedly, no definitive answer is on offer, as art can never be a straightforward endeavour, but a complex machinery consisting of mixture of reasons, thoughts, dreams and actions. The artist’s ‘product’, the ‘work’, is one of life’s inexplicable beauties.
Another interesting subtheme of The Light Burns Blue is the make-belief aspect – the real vs. unreal, existence vs. non-existence. Do we believe what we want to believe? Do we believe what others believe? Do we believe only what we see? These paradigmatic questions encircle the story and embrace all characters producing a palette of possibilities, a labyrinth of ‘truth’.
At the Q&A following the performance, the writer Silva Semerciyan talked about her enveloping fascination with the story that pushed her to explore hidden aspects of it and write her view. She did point out the collaborative effort of the whole crew and the ingenious creation of individual characters by the crew members.
Driven by a heavy female cast, ultimately, Light Burns Blue is a story about art, dreams, and imagination.
Photos: Paul Blakemore