Writer Sean Oliver pulls no punches in his play, Bright Blue Future, which recounts a wild, cocaine-powdered night on Vancouver Island that handles humour and depravity with sure-handed grace and startling insight.
The vibe is clear from the moment the audience enters. A couch, chair and dirty table make the set – one which will be familiar to anyone who has ever crashed at a friend's house after a party. The lights remain dim — except for the black-lights — and smoke fills the air giving everything a dreamlike, slightly hallucinatory quality. Anyone who has ever entered a club will get the setting and much of the subject matter instantly. The influence of EDM music is palpable from the opening scene in which the four characters are introduced while shouting over the blaring music. In the moments interspersing the play, the club noises erupt and then fade to introduce a new monologue.
This is a play about the “millennial” generation and it is written with such deep observation of its subject that much of the dialogue borders on satire. Selfies and all the vernacular that comes with them run through much of the dialogue and provide a large amount of entertainment. The main deliverer of these lines is the character Carston (Dmitry Chepovetsky). The play begins not long after Carston shows up at the house of his former girlfriend, Arianna (Genevieve Fleming), and her current girlfriend, Alexandra (Rachel Cairns). He takes Arianna out clubbing and meets Josh (Curtis Tweedie), whom he hopes to hookup with. They return home, proceed to take a slew of drugs and get very crazy.
Bright Blue Future starts fun and touches on its heavier philosophical themes in a half-serious way. But as its plot of fighting, inebriation and seduction continues, darker themes are introduced and the desperation that the characters feel starts to bubble to the surface. As things spiral downwards, comedy is somewhat eclipsed by catastrophe and the audience is placed intimately in some very intense and uncomfortable scenes.
The issues that the characters are grappling with are very real and relatable ones. This play understands the angst of the millennial generation and manages to show it in a way that does not come across as manipulative and whiny. The characters are all somewhat victims of their circumstances and have some very universal issues. However, they are also victims of themselves. This makes the play's message — which initially seems quite clear-cut — more ambiguous and complex. At first, it might come across as cynical and defeated — and perhaps to an extent it is. But this impression is not entirely the case and, at its core, there is the potential for a more optimistic philosophy.
Anchoring the strong writing are four powerful performances that play off of each other with nuance and emotion. Each character subtly evolves over the course of the play and so do their interactions with the others. No one is whom you expect them to be and all of them, as they get higher, are pushed to escalating extremes. This demanded an unwavering dedication that each actor delivered fantastically.
Bright Blue Future is an excellent play and will undoubtedly speak to its audience in a profound way. The writing and acting are powerful and when it reaches the crescendo where the madness hits its apex, it does not disappoint. This play is a showcase for its terrific actors, director and organizers, while underlining Sean Oliver as a talent to closely watch.
Bright Blue Future will be playing through to March 5 at the Pacific Theatre.