Theatre: Curtain Calls

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The Independent Culture
Name this play: "It's nothing to do with any of us except that the body was found in our garden!" Agatha Christie? Nope... too many intentional laughs. How about the poignant reference to Enid Blyton and the worlds of possibilities in The Magic Faraway Tree? No closer? Well, time's up. The answer is Caryl Churchill's Blue Heart. It arrived at the 1997 Edinburgh Festival and even the most conservative critics were swept off their feet.

In fact, it's two for the price of one, a matched pair of cunningly interlocked tales of dislocation, linked and spun with a truly startling degree of theatricality. In Hearts' Desire, a family wait for a daughter to return after years abroad in an increasingly hilarious version of the parlour game Consequences. The moving Blue Kettle centres upon a con-trick perpertrated by an increasingly sad man playing on the emotions of motherly women. Max Stafford-Clark's superbly detailed production contains performances of finesse and pathos, and after a national and international tour, it's back. This is theatre writing at its best, and at a time when too many playwrights think that structure and plot are the same thing and that compassion is synonymous with sentimentality, Blue Heart is a heady pleasure.

Pleasance Theatre,

London N7 (0171-609 1800) 3-21 Mar