They say “Never meet your heroes”; they might not live up to your expectations. You might get too close. In “Scarlet Sunday” art curator Yasmin gets her chance of a lifetime when she meets Ava, the daughter of her favourite artist, the late Ray Blackwood. She wants to write about the man behind the masterpieces; who better than his daughter to help her piece together this enigmatic figure? Ava doesn’t seem thrilled by yet another journalist in search of a scoop; but when Yasmin mentions a certain painting, she decides to invite the curator to her father's “sanctuary”: his studio. Once there, there’s no turning back. For both of them. 

“Scarlet Sunday” is a very accomplished exploration of various intriguing themes: the relationship between the artist and their work, the obsessive celebrity culture and the desire to be seen, art and its interpretation, father-daughter bonding and dealing with grief and trauma.  James Alston’s writing is sharp, bold, and very nuanced; it is thought-provoking, never preachy and handles rather complex issues with care and mastery. The power-dynamic between Yasmin and Ava is electric, always shifting with every secret laid bare as their relationship deepens. Neither character is good or bad; they’re humans looking for answers. From the opening scene, it’s clear that Sorcha Kennedy’s charismatic and “vampiresque” Yasmin is perfectly matched with Camilla Aiko’s unflappable, “swan-like” Ava. In order to get what they want, they need to drop their masks and open up to each other; both actors rise to the challenge of navigating Yasmin and Ava’s uncomfortable truths with admirable honesty and vulnerability. 

Imy Wyatt Corner’s direction is wisely minimalistic and essential to let the text and the actors soar. The lighting (Catja Hamilton) and sound design (Odinn Orn Hilmarsson) are effective in creating a stuffy and slightly eerie studio atmosphere; the set (Cat Fuller) is very evocative though I personally wanted to see more of Blackwood’s artistic personality in it. I also felt that the very final act of the piece could have been more impactful if more tangible and moved slightly more centre stage.  

It’s unflinchingly brave and heartbreaking. It’s an acute observation of the world we live in. A tribute to human resilience. 

It runs at the Omnibus Theatre until the 17th March. Tickets here (


Review: Francesco Pagnoncelli     Photo: Alex Brenner