‘This Blood’s For You’ Review
Not your average night on Death’s Row
David W Cristner's dark ethically challenging play is brought to its true uncomfortable light on the Playroom's intimate stage.
Walking into the theatre the set appeared sparse, but over the course of the evening I lost count of the set changes and clever use of basic props to completely transform the space. The swift and subtle changes were a fantastic response to the highly static demands of the production. The costumes were simple, but effective, and the single lightbulb hanging from the ceiling served the double purpose of epitomising the intense and focused tone of every element of the play, keeping the audience tense and attentive from open to close.
Sam Tannenbaum brought the bitterness, smart mouth and sharp humour of the condemned Charlie well and truly to life. Drawing the audience into his charm, but leaving them unsure of what will happen each time an outsider walks into the cage with the tiger.
The actors who did walk into the tiger's cage ranged wildly, from the camp, misguided flare of the alcoholic priest, to the unhinged anxiety ridden mother, begging in her skin tight black dress for her son's liver. To the coldly controlled entitlement of the warden, to the guilt ridden and conflicted governor and finally to Patrick, the innocent centre of the play, who appeared out of place surrounded by adults, all so corrupt in their own way.
The cast each found the tics and habits under the skin of their characters, expertly bringing out the layered personality's and complexities of the play, without missing the comic timings, jokes and necessity for humour that could easily have got lost in the play's other themes.
The performance itself aside, it was really exciting to see a play performed in Cambridge that so unflinchingly attacked the system from every angle; sarcastically intoning that you have to 'know the right people' to get anywhere in life, and painfully demonstrating the elitist educational hierarchy. For a University steeped in privilege, tradition and struggling to shake off its elitism, it seemed like the perfect match.
'This Blood's for You' left me, as all good theatre should, still thinking about the performance long after it ended and turning the corrupt societal image, handed to the audience at the end of the performance, over in my mind. The fate of Charlie is left ambiguous, and although the ending of the play left a little to be desired, the idea of responsibility and drive for change was very much hanging in the room.
If you're looking for something to lighten your mood after spending the day in the library hunched over incomprehensible books, I would probably point you elsewhere, but, if you like the darker side of things then get yourself down to the Corpus Playroom by the 27th of October!
4 out of 5 stars.