Three Penny Theatre

1723 25th St.
Sacramento, CA 95816

(916) 451-5822

Rated 4.0

It’s as claustrophobic as a one-act can get, and that’s precisely how it’s supposed to be in Blackbird, the current production by the Actor’s Workshop Theatre of Sacramento. Set in a generic factory-style break room with a crappy coffee pot, plastic chairs, overflowing trash cans and the detritus of fast-food lunches, a man and a woman meet again after a gap of almost two decades.

But the last time they met, the woman was still a child.

Under the direction of Ed Claudio, this is an intense, fast-paced, unnerving play, in which Ray (the gifted Mark Heckman, who has never before seemed quite this sleazy) attempts to explain himself to Una (the dynamic Tygar Hicks, perfectly fragile in this role). They are both incredibly damaged people; the audience’s sympathy must surely come down on Una’s side of the equation, given that she was a 12-year-old when her “relationship” with Ray began.

Over the period of roughly an hour and a half, played out in real time, Una demands answers from Ray. At first he avoids her, then his responses cover the gamut from defiance to apology to yet another attempt at seduction as he covers every possible excuse for his behavior.

But there’s another woman in his life, and another child as well (A Girl, alternately played by Amber Luke and Joelle Jacoby).

This is an uncomfortable play, as it ought to be, and the actors do not make it any easier, announcing their wounds loud and clear in a cluttered room that’s not nearly as messy as their lives.