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The Bloody Chamber
Published on Thursday, 16 August 2012
3

3 stars

C venues - C eca (venue website)
Theatre
1-13, 15-27 Aug, 9:35pm-10:25pm
Reviewed by Mathilda Gregory

 Recommended for age 12+ only.

This is a sparse production from a student company of Angela Carter’s reworking of the Bluebeard tale. In The Bloody Chamber, the lasciviousness of the original, and the disturbing sexuality of Bluebeard himself, are drawn more tightly into focus – turning a story that was chilling into an outright piece of horror.

3 Bugs Theatre convey these ideas well, using a blend of music and dance, alongside more traditional storytelling. It’s an approach which works extremely well, adding a satisfying layer to this simple story. Set design choices are nicely made, especially in the rendering of the titular chamber itself. And another aspect of the show which I thought was deliciously eerie, though possibly unintentional, was that a couple of the show’s props and (most obviously) the heroine’s dress were marked with red stains. These may have come from previous performances – because the blood does get smeared around later in the show – but I found this sinister touch highly effective.

Some aspects of Carter’s story are toned down in this version. The Marquis’ contempt towards the heroine is much muted, as is his overt sadism towards her. Another problem is that this story, like Bluebeard before it, has a rather abrupt and contrived ending. (This contrivance was actually made a particular plot point in a stand-out production of Bluebeard at last year’s Fringe.) In fact, the ending was so sudden that I suspect the audience were cued to applaud by a helpful member who knew we had hit the final moment.

However, faults of the story aside, this is a thoroughly entertaining – if rather slight – version of a gruesome and alarming tale.

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