Saturday, November 4, 2017

[Update] Harrower's BLACKBIRD: A Nymphet's Affair with Her Neighbor

A Play by David Harrower

David Harrower's one-act play Blackbird was inspired by U.S. Marine Toby Studebaker's relationship with Shevaun Pennington - a twelve-year-old British girl. 

Studebaker met Pennington in 2002 on Neopets - a virtual pet community. Pennington was eleven-years-old, but she told Studebaker that she was seventeen. Pennington told her parents that she was going shopping, but she failed to inform them that she was going with Studebaker and that the store was in Paris. Studebaker and Pennington stayed in a Parisian hotel for two days before relocating to Strasbourg were Studebaker was arrested.

In the play, Ray gets a surprise visit from Una. During the visit they discuss their age-discrepant relationship that began after Una's father invited Ray to a backyard barbecue. Ray was forty and Una was twelve.

As typical, the nymphet, Una, initiated the relationship by flirting, hanging around Ray's car, and leaving notes under his windshield wipers. Even Ray's girlfriend noticed that Una was "after" Ray. 

Una confessed, "I'd done anything you said. I wanted you to be my boyfriend. I wanted to sit beside you in your car and be driven into town. And for people to see me. See us. I took a Polaroid of you and with my friend we kissed it we put it on my pillow and slept beside it. And I [used] any excuse. Brought you cookies and brownies that my mother made. Asked you to sponsor me for a walk-a-thon [...] I was shameless." 

However, Una went on to blame Ray for the affair that led to his imprisonment. "You didn't stop that. All you had to do was tell my parents. A stupid girl who had a stupid crush. But you didn't. You let it start." By "let it start", Una was referring to the time she summoned Ray into the park bushes where they subsequently fondled and made love several times. 

The relationship ended after Ray and Una "got a room at a guest house" where they had sex, twice, on a twin bed. Ray left for cigarettes, but after he took longer than expected to return, Una searched for him, but that quest exposed their affair to her parents after she was discovered by a couple walking their dog.

Consequently, due to age-of-consent laws, Studebaker and Ray should have told the nubile nymphets, "See me when you're legal. If you're still interested."

Jeff Daniels played Ray in a 2007 Manhattan Theater Club production of Blackbird and Daniels reprised the role in a 2016 Broadway revival at the Belasco Theatre. 

Una (2017), a close adaption of the play, starring Rooney Mara and Ben Mendelsohn, has been released. Here's IMDb's plot summary: A woman confronts an older man, her former neighbor, to find out why he abandoned her after they had a sexual relationship when she was thirteen.

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