Dr Blood’s Old Travelling Show Review

The Playhouse, Leeds  – 7th & 8th of October 2020

Reviewed By Sally Richmond

5 ***** 

Wow!  Simply, wow – is the best word to describe how it felt to be back at the Leeds Playhouse. After many months of feeling bereft and deprived of seeing a live theatrical performance, it was a true joy to once again have my imagination and emotions ignited, provoked and transcended by a new and unique creation in the form of Dr Blood’s Old Travelling Show.  

A world without the arts doesn’t bear thinking about and due to the amazing Playhouse team, who ensure every covid-19 health and safety measure is in place and adhered to, there is no reason why we should be denied our cultural and artistic rights!  There was a real sense of community cohesion as the audience stood together (socially distanced of course) to witness this most extraordinary and outlandishly good outdoor performance.  

Friends and foes, behold the shocking spectacle Dr Blood and be enthralled by a grotesque tale that goes beyond a narrative – blending gore with the ridiculous.  Nefariously dark, this pacy and intriguing  tale is set in the lurid and hideous underworld of a northern town; where the souls of three powerful pillars of the community are tested.  Will they succumb to corruption when they have the opportunity to make lots of money?   Predictably, in this ‘dog eat dog world’ – it’s of no surprise that greed and ambition win resulting in mayhem and horrific, fatal bloody murders.  

Through their dynamic use of film and technology, Imitating the Dog have once again created a highly entertaining and slick show that is brimming with riotous energy and alarming edgy drama,  What should have been pure chaos as it involved: puppets, a blood splattered screen, rolling film, switching roles before your very eyes and with punk tunes playing in the background – was actually done seamlessly and with pin-sharp timing.  Every scene burst with macabre madness as the power-crazed trio had the depths of their base and hideous inner selves explored and exploited.  How far will some people go for money?  All the way it seems ….  

Dr Blood’s Old Travelling Show is storytelling at its absolute best – thrilling, off-beat and most inventive.  Eerily comical and delightfully off-the-wall, this tragic tale shows us that sometimes the bad do end badly and that we all have ‘free will’ to go on whichever path we choose.  

It was bliss to be back at the Leeds Playhouse and so immensely moving to hear the applause and cheers at the end of the show because for many, watching live performances fulfils essential emotional and spiritual needs.  We’ve missed you!