Cosmic dancer: Belvoir’s Blue Wizard

This review was originally written for artsHub.

Billed as “the gayest one-man show ever!”, Nick Coyle’s Blue Wizard is like nothing you’ve seen before. Presented by Belvoir as part of the Mardi Gras festival, it’s the story of a cosmic wizard who crashes to earth in a comet, and sings and dances in an effort to return home. First presented by PACT centre for emerging artists in 2013, Blue Wizard is a show that doesn’t apologise for being itself. Playing in Belvoir’s Downstairs theatre, Coyle’s wizard cavorts and dances, shimmies struts and frets amongst piles of junk and detritus set atop a mirrored floor. Lasers flash and strobe, smoke creeps along the floor, and the blue wizard must care for an egg which hatches uncharacteristically early.

There are moments of inspired genius here, lines which Coyle seems to almost throw away occasionally contain a deeper truth, as do some of the moments with the newly-hatched star-child (an otherworldy puppet in the manner of E.C. from 1990s kids tv program Lift-Off!), but the whole piece – running barely more than an hour in length – struggles to gain narrative cohesion. Or any kind of real depth for that matter. It feels like a shorter piece that has been expanded to fill its new location while still using the same material as the original shorter work did, with nothing new to fill the gaps. There are ideas that ripple through Coyle’s piece which remain underdeveloped or could be developed further. With Adena Jacobs involved as dramaturg on this new incarnation, you could be forgiven for expecting more to have been made of these ideas, like time running out, and looking after what we have (with regards to people, as much as the planet), along with the idea of the wizard being stranded from his home planet with no chance of return.

Blue Wizard’s design, in consultation with Ralph Myers, is clever and functional, and celebrates the DIY aesthetic that seems to run through Coyle’s piece, but the mirrored floor and ceiling only exacerbates the emptiness at the heart of this production. Damien Cooper’s lighting is colourful and adventurous and, along with Steve Toulmin’s songs and sound design, goes some way to disguising this. But for all the lights and distractions and spectacle of the opening sequence, Blue Wizard’s promise as “the gayest one-man show ever” feels like a planet-sized opportunity that has disappeared into its own cleverness and self-irreverence. 

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