Words by: Mandy Moe Pwint Tu
Belated, produced by the Blue Room Theatre and the Maiden Voyage Theatre Company, is a play about friendship and forgiveness, and how sometimes coming clean and admitting you may have made a mistake is perhaps one of the most difficult things you can do. It’s about navigating through life, stumbling and fumbling as humans do, picking ourselves up, and in doing so, learning to make peace within ourselves and with everyone around us. It’s honest, it’s brave, and it’s confronting.
Written by Liz Newell and directed by Emily McLean, Belated follows the story of Blythe (played by Emily Kennedy), a strong-willed twenty something year old who finds herself trying to get her life back together after a bad breakup. Her best friend Max (Peter Lane Townsend) and his girlfriend Norah (Maja Liwszyc) take her in, although the relationship between Norah and Blythe is strained. The main point of conflict in the play centers on Norah’s absent father, who Blythe meets while she is bartending. After a couple of drinks and discussion, Blythe learns a little more about Dean (played by Benj D’addario), but he gets on her nerves and there is an accident. As Blythe continues living with Max and Norah, she realizes that she will have to tell Norah about her father – and the fate that Blythe has unwittingly doomed him to.
This simple storyline is well and properly fleshed out through a combination Liz Newell’s script, Emily McLean’s direction, and the cast’s dedication. The actors are wonderful. Emily Kennedy’s performance is spirited and bold; Benj D’Addario’s comedic timing is excellent; Peter Lane Townsend is both vulnerable and forthcoming; Maja Liwszyc is charming and heartfelt. The chemistry within the cast is palpable, and the energy they bring to Belated makes it quite a fantastic spectacle to behold. At a couple of points, it feels like the comedic moments worked better than the dramatic moments, but Belated holds its course and does not waver.
The set, designed by Tessa Darcey, and the music, provided by St South, play an integral part in making Belated what it is. The set alternates between Max and Norah’s living room and the bar where Blythe works and where she subsequently meets Dean. Together with the lighting and sound, designed by Joe Lui of Selkie fame, atmospherically contribute to the alternating tones of comedy and drama of Belated. My one peeve with the set is that I thought, theatrically, it might have worked better if the audience were not privy to the revolving scene changes, but it was a small enough issue and did not affect the overall quality of the show.
Belated is Maiden Voyage Theatre Company’s maiden voyage (who said I couldn’t make that joke?) and I’ll eat my hat if it’s not a strong one. It’s a story that takes a couple of universal themes and weaves them into a tale that is worth telling and a show that is worth seeing. So go see it. Belated is running at the Blue Room Theatre until the 28th of May.