Bad Blood Blues

Glenda Linscott in Bad Blood Blues
Glenda Linscott in Bad Blood Blues. Image by Simon Parris

Clare (Glenda Linscott, picutred), an Australian medical researcher is a woman heavily committed to her job. She has successfully set up a research program in Africa to test out a new drug on HIV-positive pregnant women in hope that it can cure, and is more cost effective than the existing AZT method.

Patrice (Blessing Mokgohloa) is a loveable young African man applying to UCLA. He wants to improve his english and seeks Clare’s expertise to help him do so. Little do we know that there is far more to each character than initially meets the eye. Bad Blood Blues is a play you would be crazy not to see. British playwright, Paul Sirett, brings to life a debate of morality about the African drug trials; a topic so relevant and distressing, blended together with humour and romance.

As audience members walk into the Loft Theatre we are greeted with the calming sounds of David Marama, seated stage right, playing African blues on guitar. You can instantly tell Marama is born to share his music with the world. He radiates a glow that puts us at ease immediately. This is an excellent contrast for what is about to occur on the stage, and gives the overall picture a refreshing balance.

Linscott and Mokgohloa who do not leave the stage for the duration of this confronting journey, have been perfectly cast. They have moulded into their characters exquisitely and gradually become intertwined within each others lives. From the moment Linscott enters the stage she delivers a powerful performance and is downright funny at times. Mokgohloa allows the audience to fall in love with his boyish charm and innocence that it is hard to come to terms with his unexpected change of attitude as the story grows in complexity.

During each scene change, Marama thankfully fills the theatre with his music to re-centre the audience, giving us time to consider our own values whilst the stage dims, and fragments of dark red lighting partially cover the office setting. Beautifully directed by Chris Parker, each climatic turn of the plot creeps up on you with genuine surprise. Every twist leaves you gasping for breath and invigorates the mind, allowing you to stop and think about your own views towards HIV/AIDS research. Who, and what is ethically correct? Do we side with science? Or are we on the side of the sufferer?

We should feel privileged to witness such an intimate piece of theatre. The chemistry and spectrum of emotion shown between Clare and Patrice is so personal and shockingly beautiful, as they engage the audience from beginning to end with seamless story telling.
The set is simple yet cleverly designed by Andrew Bellchambers, creating a small, circular platform resembling a petri dish in which Clare’s office is fixed upon. It focuses a microscopic view into the lives of these two characters.

Manilla Street Productions have brought another wonderful piece of theatre to Chapel Off Chapel (who have housed some notable performances this year).

Thank you to all involved in bringing this sublime piece of theatre to a Melbourne stage.

Ticket Prices: Adult $45, Concession $39 (+Transaction Fee)
Evening Performances 8pm; Matinees (Saturday & Sunday) 4pm
Directed by: Chris Parker
Design: Andrew Bellchambers
Lighting Design: Scott Allan
Performed by: Glenda Linscott, Blessing Mokgohloa and David Marama (music)

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