Theatre Preview: Blue Heart @ The Tobacco Factory

by Polly Hember

The Guardian’s April de Angelis states “it is impossible to imagine the landscape of contemporary drama without Caryl Churchill, the author of more than 30 plays […] each a landmark in the history of our theatre culture.” Churchill’s experimental and formally challenging oeuvre is extensive; her curious and inventive style pulls apart aspects of language and structure in stark interrogations of modern family life and relationships.

Churchill's 1997 play Blue Heart has not been seen on stage in nearly 20 years – a split piece of theatre that stages two exhilarating one act plays (Heart’s Desire and Blue Kettle) that collide and contrast to bring us Blue/Heart. Heart’s Desire follows a family awaiting their daughter’s return from Australia, compiled of alternative and ludic scenarios and imaginings, the play spirals, veers off and explodes into Blue Kettle, which sees conman Derek fool five unsuspecting women into believing that he is their biological son. Interrogating the politics of language, identity, plot, communication and performance, Blue Heart is a remarkable piece of theatre.

Tobacco Factory Theatres and the Orange Tree Theatre are partnering and embarking on bringing the first major revival of Blue Heart to stage. Starring Gillian Axtell, Alex Beckett, Amanda Boxer, Amelda Brown, Maroussia Frank, Mona Goodwin, Janet Henfrey, Tracey Lee Sharples and Andy de la Tour, with key creatives David Mercatali and Angela Davies, this is set to be a stirring and intriguing rendition.

“Caryl Churchill’s work is still as influential as it ever was. I’m excited for audiences to view Blue Heart in a fresh context and see that it is just as contemporary and relevant now as it was when it was first written 20 years ago.” - David Mercatali, Director of Blue Heart


“These are substantial, provocative, immensely stylish works […] A major hit” - The Daily Telegraph, praise for a previous production of Blue Heart


“A fiendishly clever and surreal play, timed to perfection”The Guardian, praise for a previous production of Blue Heart


“The most precise, intense and breathtaking pieces of performance, masterfully directed” The Stage, praise for David Mercatali on his direction of Radiant Vermin (Read On the Beat’s review of Radiant Vermin here)

Book tickets here

Dates 22nd September – 1st October

Times 8pm/Matinee Saturdays 2.30pm

Venue The Tobacco Factory

Tickets £16/£13 Concessions

Age Recommendation 12+

Running time 2 hours including interval


Written by Caryl Churchill

Directed by David Mercatali

Designed by Angela Davies

Sound Designer and Composer Max Pappenheim

Lighting Designer Chris Swain

Casting Consultant Vicky Richardson

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