DramaNorth WestReview

Blood Runs Deep – Unity Theatre, Liverpool.

Writer: David Paul and Emma Culshaw

Director: Margaret Connell

Reviewer: James Eves

The premise of Blood Runs Deep at first glance appears quite interesting and inviting. However, when the piece is performed in front of you, it quickly becomes apparent that the deepest this piece gets barely reaches surface level.

Plagued with a loophole-filled script, questionable character arcs and performances that leave you wanting, this piece also falls into the trap of taking place after events that sound so much more interesting to watch on stage than those we see unfold before us.

This isn’t to say that this is an inherently bad piece of theatre, not by any means. You can still sit and watch from start to finish and get through it. Rather, it’s the execution of elements that leaves much to be desired, and if these were to be addressed the show would be in a much stronger position.

The script is the prime example of this. It spends a lot of the play swapping character’s intentions and arcs for no real reason, and it’s this that prevents us from really getting on board with any of the motivations of any of the characters. It also spends a gruelling amount of time giving us all the backstory we need to be able to understand why we’re here and what is happening now in the play. However, when the final twist of the show comes along its delivered in such an off the cuff fashion with so little explanation or time given for it to register to us as an audience, that it loses its shock value and changes it out for sheer confusion. It could also benefit from some lighter moments, of which in this version there are few to none. The themes that Blood Runs Deep explores is quite dark, but without any relief from this, we as an audience can find ourselves tuning out. Which did unfortunately occur.

The set itself is cleverly crafted and details a lot about the lives of those that we are watching on stage. However, with the set styled as the living/kitchen area of a flat, which takes up the whole of the stage, this means that the entirety of the play happens in one location, which makes us feel cramped. It could also be weaved into the direction of the scenes more so that we can see how each character relates to this space, and how different movements and interactions between the set and the characters would open up new character opportunities.

Without wanting to give too much away, the character of the uncle has his first three visits to the flat underscored by an ominous horror like sound effect, but this is never used again even though he comes and goes throughout the entirety of the piece, and his threat level is never really decreased. That said, the choice of sound effects and music clips for transitions and scenes don’t seem to fit well in the piece either. The play takes place in the 90’s so expect a soundtrack with songs from Oasis and The Cranberries, but don’t expect them to fit the tone or the intended feeling of the transitions they’re being used with, or the play itself, as they don’t.

Blood Runs Deep is an interesting play, in the fact that its premise is almost more interesting to think about. And this shouldn’t be the case. With some adjustments made to the script so that conversations don’t have to occur three or four times, sound effects and music that suit the piece more aptly, and better direction and acting to utilise the most from the characters and how they relate to one another convincingly, this piece would make for an entertaining insight into the workings of the human mind, and how we react to and deal with impactful news. For now though, while blood may run deep, it certainly doesn’t get very far.

Runs until 13 October 2018 | Image: Antony Robling

Review Overview

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A troubled production.

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The North West team is under the editorship of John Roberts. The Reviews Hub was set up in 2007. Our mission is to provide the most in-depth, nationwide arts coverage online.

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