by Caryl Churchill
Caryl Churchill has united two short pieces under a single title: Heart’s Desire and Blue Kettle. Two one-act plays, two windows opening onto the mystery of desire that the author presents as games played with the theater and language.
In the first piece, Heart’s Desire, father, mother and aunt are waiting for the return of their daughter and niece, Susi, from Australia. In all there are just fifty-three lines, but it will be difficult to get to the end. At every step there is a fork in the road. So things can go in the wrong direction, leading straight down a blind alley. Sometimes instead it is unexpected events that take them elsewhere. A child that no one wants creates confusion. And so the characters and actors are obliged to go back, in order to pick up the thread again.
In Blue Kettle a man leads many women to believe he is their son abandoned at birth and given up for adoption. He commits these frauds more or less with the complicity of his girlfriend and gets caught up in the game. But then something unexpected and mysterious happens: the language of the play becomes contaminated, and gradually breaks down; perhaps it has fallen sick. As the story unfolds two words, kettle and blue, which call to mind something domestic and deep, replace all the others. Characters and actors, using an increasingly restricted language, will continue undeterred with their actions and reactions.
Blue Heart is a great farce and a great metaphor. In the two plays coincidences and the logic of things intersect, as in life, weaving a tapestry that is comic, tragic, dramatic, childish, philosophical, symbolic and absurd. And then numbers, one, two, three and four, are at work and with them the great driving force of desire that keeps everything moving. Living and surviving, and dying and vanishing. Life wants to live, on the one hand, and go back to its beginning, on the other.