Where do you start if your ultimate goal is a West End and Broadway musical? Revivals often start at Chichester and new concepts here at the Fringe. Six started in Edinburgh and went huge. Hamlet the Musical started here and didn’t. The Viking musical Blodlina is hoping that it will share the fate of the Tudor wives rather than the Scandinavian prince.
The lines are clumsy, the story muddled and there is no good tune to whistle
Former East 15 students Marcus Wood and Nathan Rees got together with Viking obsessed composer Vicky Clubb to tell the musical story of two sisters, Magnhild and Ingrid. These Iron Maidens inherit a Norse throne from their dad along with a mortal rival, King Ove, who wants to steal their lands. Blodlina tells the story, in rock, of the ensuing struggle for lands, thrones and affections.
The professional company give us plenty to enjoy in this one hour pilot, throwing themselves aboard heart, voice and sword. Ed Tunningley is all Viking warlord, channelling Erik Bloodaxe, Sweyn Forkbeard and Brian Blessed as he barks, snarls and bites his way through the role of King Ove. If I ever have to sack Lindisfarne, I definitely want him beside me. Singing Icelandic warrior queen Halldora Thoell (Friga) goes all Valkyrie on everyone’s ass, trolling out operatic medleys and flapping big silvery wings. She certainly earned her Danegeld. Nathan Rees (plus guitar) strums his way through engagingly as a likeable Welsh Loki. There is leathered up girl on girl Viking action with swords and fists (but no mud). Is it giving you the horn? These Vikings certainly rock the boat.
As a longer term project, however, the lines are clumsy, the story muddled and there is no good tune to whistle as you whittle and hack your way down the Royal Mile. We are promised “haunting folk melodies, exhilarating heavy metal and thrilling sword fights”. But the sword fights were hardly thrilling (disappointing from graduates of Acting and Stage Combat). And the lines are dreadful, such as “oh frig off mum”, “you are clueless” and “if you’re trying to be like Dad, you’re not doing yourself justice”. Storri Sturluson would turn in his grave. One Karl says “In helping us mend, I know I’ve a friend.” We need rattling good words and rattling good tunes please. Where are they? Above all, the story is muddled, drifting steadily nowhere as first this person is killed and then that. What sort of Jarlette is Ingrid supposed to be anyway – leathery bad ass or vulnerable underdog? And it doesn’t help to have Cameron Carlson play two characters, both wimpy, lovestruck no-hopers, without any real indication of which, at each point, is on stage.
There probably is space for a Viking musical. But this raid has not yielded treasure. Blodlina is more Stamford Bridge than Maldon. Back in the boat, travellers, and back to the drawing board.