Rupert Hands, director, Blackbird, The Other Room

October 31, 2016 by

I have known Kate Wasserberg for a long time, and when she went to Cardiff to set up The Other Room at Porters, it seemed like a perfect project.

Fringe theatre is vital in any city, and I believe The Other Room is integral to the life blood of Cardiff.

You cannot overstate the value of theatre which is not afraid of taking risks with their programming and  which isn’t totally dependant on filling huge houses for very long runs. The danger is that the programming can become safe and familiar so that you are almost guaranteed an audience will come to see them. Blackbird could not really have been programmed in Cardiff outside of The Other Room.

It is a brilliant, dark, visceral, haunting play. It takes a seemingly simple moral situation, one which an audience might look at on a surface level and be able to identify right and wrong, black and white, and then it slowly turns everything grey.

When Kate and I talked about my directing something at The Other Room, we had a few possibilities, but quickly settled on Blackbird.

It appealed firstly in that it is a truly stunning play – recently on Broadway and with an Olivier for Best New Play under its belt – but what was also attractive was its simplicity. All it really requires is a small room and two brilliant actors.

We were very fortunate to get the rights, as it is a highly sought after play, and The Other Room is the perfect space for it, but if there is one major coup for this production, it is in having Christian Patterson and Sophie Melville as our performers.

We spend 1 hour 15 minutes watching two people in a small room talking. The writing is wonderful, but you need actors with the charisma, intelligence and the sheer ability to hold the audience’s attention for that period. We could not have found two better people than Christian and Sophie.

Their skill in commanding the text, working the stage and fleshing out these two people to make them fully formed, three dimensional characters is what makes the production.

Blackbird is a play which challenges the moral compass of society, asking frighteningly difficult questions of the world around us and of ourselves. It continuously challenges audience members to find the moral absolutes in the picture it paints of the world, who the victim is and why. It is a darkly brilliant piece.

However, I have seldom enjoyed a rehearsal process more than working with Sophie and Christian on this. The bond they have personally and the chemistry they have on stage is phenomenal. Every day in the rehearsal room was a joy as we built this production.

I’m very proud of the work they have done, and to have been fortunate enough to work with them both.


Rupert is Artistic Director of Those Two Imposters
Blackbird runs at The Other Room until 4 November. For tickets and further information, visit

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