The play “Blackbird” comes with some major content warnings. The show made its New York debut in 2007 with Jeff Daniels and Alison Pill in the leads and centers on the two characters, Ray and Una, confronting the relationship they had when he was 40 and she was 12. It deals explicitly with underage sexual abuse.
“He’s hidden this episode of his life from everyone,” says actor Robert Bryan Davis, who is playing Ray in this production. “He’s trying to leave it behind. And of course Una comes by and breaks that wall wide open.”
The show is an uninterrupted 90-minute conversation between the two in a trash-strewn break room in Ray’s office building. It is their first time seeing each other in 15 years, since their last tryst ended with his arrest and eventual trial and jail time. While the characters don’t mince words about the abuse that took place, the show is ambiguous about other aspects of their relationship.
“Did he really love her? Is that possible?” says Rebeca Robles, who is playing Una. “It forces you to really think and it stretches you.” Allowing for those questions to come into play in a story that deals frankly with subjects that are considered taboo was important to the production.
“[It] allows us to tell a truer story with less judgment,” says director Rebekah Suellau.
Handling such sensitive material, the cast and crew formed a community partnership with the Georgia Center for Child Advocacy, a private, nonprofit agency which champions the needs of sexually and severely physically abused children.
“The nature of this story is that it has the potential to be incredibly activating, emotionally,” says Suellau.
“We wanted to leave the audience with resources,” Robles says.
“Blackbird” opens Thursday October 5 in 7 Stages’ Black Box space and runs through Oct. 14.
Correction: This report has been updated with the correct spelling of actress Rebekah Suellau’s name.