BWW Review: DEVIL WITH THE BLUE DRESS, Bunker Theatre
The script is a multi-layered investigation that slowly teases out new information on the historical scandal. At times this can keep the audience on their toes, however during other moments the lack of progression proves to be a tad glib.
Flora Montgomery's Hilary begins, mentioning that this is actually her play - it all feels very meta. Hilary possesses a no nonsense attitude and an emotionless energy. Even though Montgomery portrays her well, the way that she has been written leaves very little to root for.
Monica (Daniella Isaacs) strongly believes that she is in full control and not the one being manipulated. Despite being penned as "smooth and sexy", this sexual prowess doesn't ever blossom due to Armento's preventative script. For that reason, Isaacs is never fully allowed to shine, as the dialogue she's been given to speak restricts her.
The writing does touch on interesting themes such as consent, boundary crossing and inappropriate behaviour, however it all feels more encyclopaedic rather than drama - Armento relies too heavily on fact checking rather than the story moving forward.
The complex narrative does well to explore the intrinsic elements of coercion and collusion, but it quickly proceeds into a convoluted word vomit of too many variables that lacks substance. And it's another reason as to why the play struggles.
Even though the scandal too place 20 years ago, the subject matter feels majorly contemporarily relevant to the current social and political debate. But this production could go much further to actively seek provocation. Instead, it relaxes too much into mundanity.
Photo credit: Helen Murray