POST: 'Blackbird' - I question myself entirely

What's it about?

A woman, Una, pays her first, very complicated, love a visit after fifteen years. 

What'd I experience?

My mind has officially been blown.

I got so much deja vu watching this show, not because I've been anywhere close to the trauma Una has endured, but because of my obsession with rape cases. That's sounds so weird - let me explain. I am really interested in the psychological aspects of those who commit that crime as well as those who experience it. I like to see what motivates people to do things that society has deemed 'wrong', and even more so if in some cases they claim to have love for their victims. 

Ray (who is played my Jeff Daniels!!!!), is a now fifty something man who has managed to recreate a life for himself after having been involved in a sexual relationship with a 12 year old child. That child was Una (Michelle Williams), who is now twenty something and has decided to confront her 'perpetrator'. Ray (40 something at the time) met Una when her father (Ray's neighbor) invited him to a BBQ. Una was 12 at the time when Ray spotted her in a corner looking absolutely bored. They begin talking, ended up striking up a friendship, which then slowly takes a sexual tone, and then they have sex. Now, it's important to note that Una's father ended up finding out about the little affair with Ray and took him to court. Ray then spent three years in prison and as soon as he was out rebuilt a life for himself. Una has to some extent done the same. 

This is probably the point where I start getting into dangerous territory, because once again a play is making me question myself entirely. It almost feels like I was being emotional manipulated by the story - in the best way possible - because for once I wasn't pushed to feel entirely bad for a women who was victimized. Una was a strong woman, even when she was 12, she was sure of herself and determined to get what she wanted. At that young age she knew she wanted Ray. Personally it doesn't sound strange that she'd wanted Ray, at least at an emotional level. Ray was older, a loner, and someone who gave Una attention. I get a sense that Una's sexual awakening happened earlier than any parent would want, which led to doing things that no one would ever find right for a child that young. That's where the foundation of her and Ray's relationship is foggy to me. Everything that happened in that relationship was consensual, in a way. I mean, she was 12. But at the same time that is the reason why it sort of frightens me because I cannot tell if I think it was wrong. I mean, I do. Ray should have said no. But when I look through Una's eyes, things get so blurry.

Initially, Una randomly appears at Ray's job, so I'm thinking here is a women visiting her rapist. But of course it's not that simple, because Una wasn't molested, she was hurt by Ray, but not psychically. What wounded Una the most was being rejected by the man she thought loved her and then even worse she was told she could never see him again. Combine being 12, losing her virginity to an older man, a man she believed to love, one she believed to be special to, and then have that state of bliss ripped away - never to be felt again. Una may have physically grown, but that day she saw him again left her feeling that same anger and grief she felt when she was a child. She confesses to Ray she has been with 83 men since him, but nothin had come of them, which I took as after 15 years she hasn't been able to stop comparing them to Ray.

When Ray is trying to give Una a reason for having been with her, he said something that I've thought about before. Ray says that what hurt him the most about the court trials was being demonized in front of everyone. The prosecutors had created a fictionalized story about how Una and him had become close, they made it seem like he had chosen her, groomed her, and then forced her to be in a relationship she wanted no part of. It freaked me out when I saw everyone around me with expressions of disgust as Ray justified his actions, even more expressions of utter confusion when Una indirectly reassures that she didn't consider what they did as rape. I agreed with Ray and Una. I think what really made their entire situation a problem in the first place was timing. I'm talking about age, I mean if they had met now - when Una is in her twenties - they would have saved so much pain. Oh, timing. It's everything.


 

Want to see it?

$32 General Rush

Blackbird
Belasco Theatre
thru June 11