This is the closing weekend for the Elm Theatre‘s production of Adam Rapp‘s Blackbird–one of the most exciting productions I’ve seen in a while.

Elm is a new endeavor, they started offering acting classes in January, and Blackbird is their first production. They make wonderful use of the performance space, which is on the second floor of a building at the corner of Julia St. and Convention Center Blvd.

The setting is the squalid apartment of a severely injured, alcohol and drug-addled Gulf War veteran, Bayliss. Immediately upon walking into the space, because of the excellent set design, I knew I was going to be getting an unflinching look into this world. Usually depictions of drug dens and squats are a little sanitized for public consumption–not this set. I knew the basic premise of the play, Bayliss is in a doomed relationship with a very young, junky, ex-stripper. It’s the late nineties (pre 9-11) and they inhabit the Lower East Side of Manhattan, and it’s Christmas Eve. It’s sounds about as bleak as it gets, and it is, but with great writing, and fully-committed and talented performers (Garrett Prejean and Becca Chapman), the play is transcendent. I laughed, I cried, I gasped–not easy to make anyone gasp these days.

Two performances left. Tonight and tomorrow at 8pm. $15.


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