Clare Bayley's 'Blue Sky' takes bold strides into the hinterland of the war on terror, circa the second Gulf War. An abduction in Karachi, military planes landing in anonymous rural airports, a journalist with a hunch – all these provide ingredients for a thriller that asks provocative questions about the determination of 'benign' Western governments to operate against suspected enemies with impunity.
The action is driven by Jane (Sarah Malin), an abrasive, emotionally needy journalist who quits her paper to pursue a story about extraordinary rendition that catches her eye when it's written up as a short article. She decides to look up an old flame, Ray, who fancies himself as a plane-spotter, and lives with his political activist daughter who's writing a blog campaigning against the war in Iraq.
Bayley has clearly done a lot of intelligent research, but parts of the play falls prey to how fast the public consciousness is moving on the issues she covers. For a journalist and a blogger to have a row about the merits or demerits of citizen journalism just seems dated, however true it is to the time – equally lines of dialogue such as 'The CIA aren't nice people' could hardly be categorized as revelatory.
The emotional arc of the play also feels forced. In particular the tetchy relationship between Jane and her lover's daughter, Ana, simply feels like a vehicle for expressing various political arguments. This is a shame because a lot of good work has clearly gone into forging both the script and production. Yet somehow, as a whole, the project rings hollow.