The Nuffield Theatre Company
St James Studio
A cabaret-style layout and flickering candles create the gloomy atmosphere needed for Douglas Post’s one-man thriller at the St James Studio.
Standing atop a bridge in London, Derek Eveleigh recounts the dark story that leads him to contemplate suicide.
It’s 1957. Talented photographer Derek is dismissed from the police force due to inebriation and descends into a lonely, drunken, impoverished life. As he hits rock bottom, Derek receives mysterious letters requesting his photography skills to capture a beautiful black woman, Cassandra, in return for large sums of money.
Impossible to resist, Eveleigh becomes increasingly infatuated with his subject until she is brutally murdered in a park. Thus begins his mission to delve beneath the murky depths of London’s cabaret scene to discover the truth about his employer and Cassandra.
Multi-talented Simon Slater manages the difficult task of convincingly bringing each character to life, along with their own mannerisms and personality traits. An American jazz musician, Russian magician, Irish comedian and cockney copper are all in his arsenal. Even though there’s the odd slip of an accent here or there, Slater seems most confident when armed with an instrument, particularly the saxophone.
The story is full of nostalgic nods to post-war Britain, which, although they can be a nice touch, are also the play’s downfall. Post’s script is cluttered with superfluous descriptions that neither further the story nor evoke any sense of a ‘thriller’; the action and resolve are ultimately underwhelming.
Furthermore, Agnes Dewhurst’s staging also suffers from being too cluttered—it seems a battle for Slater to manoeuvre himself around the small acting space. This is fine when the scene takes place in Derek’s cramped apartment, but causes problems for other settings.
The use of projections seems to be incredibly in vogue these days (Strangers on a Train, Stephen Ward, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Beats, Chalk Farm, Curious Incident, From Morning to Midnight, Scenes From A Marriage, Beauty and the Beast, American Psycho), and Bloodshot is no exception.
A sequence of Derek’s photographs flashes up on a projector. However this PowerPoint presentation seems somewhat amateur when compared to the aforementioned.
Ultimately, Post’s one-man thriller fails to excite in this well-acted but cluttered production. It would serve well as an 80-minute, no-interval job, rather than this two-hour disappointment.
Reviewer: Sean Brooks