Review: Bluebeard

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Physical theatre can often fall into self-indulgence and pretentious wankery. Luckily Sheffield’s Headlock Theatre do not set out to say something profound about the human condition but instead set out to tell a story in an interesting manner. This simplified approach has served them well over five years, a trend that looks set to continue with their new show Bluebeard.

Despite a weak opening it was striking early on that for a preview the show was incredibly slick. Despite a small cast (featuring Becca Solomon, Tori Klays and Ben Price,) the physical aspects were constantly engaging, never once going on too long or becoming hard to follow. This could be seen in the repeated dinner table scenes which the cast performed in near perfect rhythm in a way that was both pleasingly smooth but also carried an off-kilter excitement waiting for something to disrupt the harmony. The well-choreographed physicality gave the piece an excellent fluidity in the small space with scenes such as the exploration of the house coming alive.

Other highlights included the end of the piece which was incredibly powerful with the physical aspect becoming more forceful, however more violence and finality would serve to heighten it even more. The best scene, perhaps, came in the middle as the sister narrated the story of her brother being lost in the woods as he acted it out. This combination of storytelling and physicality was a showcase for the play’s constantly simple but engaging nature.

As well as the actors, the backstage team deserve massive credit. Obviously directors Sam Allan and Elin Schofield did a fantastic job of conceiving and planning the whole show and the set and lighting designers created a minimal but effective setting. Special mention should go to the sound design of Stephen Geller. The music was vital to the mood throughout and helped lift up the action on the stage.

Bluebeard was simply engaging. Its focus on story and realistic ambitions made for a haunting piece of theatre that is bound to be another success at the Fringe.

Words By Chad Bentley

Fringe dates: Aug 6-22 at 14:30 at Spotlights (Venue 278)


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