This is not a review: more of an internet-note on a show I saw last night at The Old Fitzroy Hotel in Woolloomoolloo: Bluey by Phil Spencer and directed by Scarlet McGlynn.

Spencer and McGlynn have recently returned from living in the UK, and have been programmed for an evening slot at the Old Fitz until Sunday 26th April. I will declare that I have programmed Spencer and McGlynn for my upcoming Off The Shelf Project for new works at Queen St Studio. Until about a month ago, I had not met either Spencer nor McGlynn, infact I would say I don’t “know” them very well: which is one of the reasons I wanted to see Bluey. I programmed their piece “Boxing Day” on the strength of the script and application: not having seen nor heard of their prior collaborations. I write this, to provide my perspective on their work: not as advertising, nor formal review.

Bluey is one man show by UK writer/performer Phil Spence, directed by Scarlet McGlynn. It tells the true story of Spence’s father’s 2003 deployment to IRAQ, and the social and personal circumstances in which Spencer: as author and performer, regarded what it meant to have a family member in a war he objected to.

Filled with meta-theatrical devises, a charming self-aware and confident persona of direct address and authentic RAF paraphenalia, the story truly centres around the relationship between father and son. Some could get distracted and hung up on the choice of Spencer manipulating a 3 foot chimp puppet to illustrate the interaction between father and son (or storyteller and listener), but this is not really the most interesting aspect of the script, nor the performance.

The subtext is so subtle that audience with more simple expectations could understand just the performative elements or be happy being distracted by Spencer’s natural and charming demeanour. The essence of the story is about an ideological conflict between father and son. The turning point of which is when Spencer recounts turning to his father and saying, “Don’t go.” And his father simply stating “It’s my job”. And the chasm between.

Largely it is a night of information, illuminating the general public on the mundanity of everyday life in a war. It also contains reflection between what American soldiers had vs the English… and the realities of being in the field, overseas. Through the telling of this information, this semi verbatim piece, we see Spencer’s perspective, respect and regard for his father change and grow: demonstrating that , like war, personal or familial conflict needs only willingness to communicate to resolve differences. The act of writing a show, the generosity to find time and space to listen, not assume, is a generous healing act within itself.

Bluey uses the macro of war to explain the micro of father/son relationship and I found it to be a charming, informative and intelligent production.