Home » London Theatre Reviews » Blue by June Carryl at Seven Dials Playhouse | Review

Blue by June Carryl at Seven Dials Playhouse | Review

Boyd Sully (John Colella) is not an officer, as some of the police records still state, but a sergeant in Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD). But LaRhonda Parker (June Carryl), a detective interviewing him because of an “administrative investigation”, wants to know why someone with 29 years police experience hasn’t gone higher up the chain of command. I must admit I hadn’t come across the term “administrative investigation” before, but it seems to be a method of providing a comprehensive response to a complaint – in short, fact-finding.

BLUE at 7 DIALS. Laurie Sparham Photography.
BLUE at 7 DIALS. Laurie Sparham Photography.

There’s some dramatic licence here: the complaint being investigated is about the death of David Mason, a 33-year-old black man, after he was shot by Sully. But the questioning somehow manages to incorporate all sorts of other topics, including gender pronouns and the Capitol attack by a mob on 6 January 2021. Granted, some of the straying away from the case in point arose naturally from Sully and Parker knowing each other – if I’ve understood it correctly, Parker’s husband used to work with Sully, which meant there were all kinds of past recollections, one in particular which Sully claims he can’t get out of his head.

The narrative exposes both characters as flawed. In his case, there was shooting someone who hadn’t done anything to merit being shot, but there was also his involvement in certain other activities that, as Parker points out, might well have a bearing on his ability to remain impartial whilst upholding the law. Alas, Parker herself is not exactly non-partisan, and reveals some strong opinions, which if anything drives up the dramatic tension at the ‘right’ point in this one-act play.

In some ways, it’s a textbook play – starting off with pleasantries, before some evasiveness starts creeping in, before a progression to outright confrontation. Papers are thrown about, a fist bangs hard on the table, and personal cutting remarks are made. In its investigative thoroughness, the same chain of events is gone over several times, which frankly was a bit of a pain to sit through. Whether the police would have gone on to take disciplinary action is anyone’s guess, with the show’s conclusion shifting from the investigation to Parker’s wider thoughts on the sheer number of fatalities, all victims of disproportionate police force.

This isn’t the first time failures in policing have been highlighted on stage (Accidental Death of an Anarchist and Prima Facie being two recent examples), and while it might not have told theatre patrons likely to book to see this production anything groundbreakingly new, it is nonetheless a thrilling and thoroughly thought-provoking, well-written and well-performed piece of theatre.

4 stars

Review by Chris Omaweng

Join Los Angeles Police Detective LaRhonda Parker as she dives into the heart of a gripping interrogation of one of her own in the shooting of a Black motorist. But this isn’t just any case. The officer is a family friend and her husband’s ex-partner.

Boyd Sully John Colella
LaRhonda Parker June Carryl

Director Michael Matthews
Playwright June Carryl
Producers Mark Giberson, Betsy Zajko, and Rebecca Eisenberg with No Boundaries Theatrical Productions.

5 MAR – 30 MAR 2024


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