I had high expectations of Bloodbath The Musical - everything from their high-profile casting to glossy programme gives the impression they've spent some money on this show, and that's a rare thing at the Fringe. But my hopes were sadly dashed within the first few scenes, and I really did struggle to stick with it until the end; others in the auditorium didn't manage that longevity.
The show itself inhabits the territory associated with teen horror flicks. There's a serial killer in town called the Waterman, and he's bumping off nubile cheerleaders in droves while the local police force are clueless as to the culprit. Many red herrings are thrown in as possibilities until the final twist reveals the killer before they high-kick off the stage.
From the start there was a real sense of 'an event'. You're marshalled into the theatre by a rather rotund law enforcement officer and greeted by a thumping 3D soundscape. Clearly they are trying to create a parody of both the horror film genre and the Broadway musical, but the resultant bastard child was terribly malformed. It's grasping at the coattails of The Rocky Horror Show and Hedwig & The Angry Inch in an attempt to become the next cult rock-opera, but it fails because the story isn't as strong as Rocky, and the music poor next to Hedwig.
It's getting attention due to the stunt casting of Anthony Costa, ex-boyband member of Blue. He was billed as the school heartthrob & quarterback, but age and waistline make that a very unconvincing sale. There's titillation in the form of the cheerleaders, but it smacks of exploitation when their prom dresses are see-through. It just seemed gratuitous and unnecessary. Much like the attempt to shock, with one quite unbelievable dance routine in which the police officers do formation Nazi salutes and goose-stepping. It was at this point that the walkouts started, and I wondered whether they were trying to create the worst show ever made in some kind of confidence trick, much like The Producers' Springtime For Hitler.
The set, designed by takis (and it seems there is a contractual obligation to use his name in lower case), consists of an arc of rotating flats, black on one side and mirrored on the other. It probably looked good in the model, but in execution some panels were better framed than others and the mirrored sides where covered in hand prints and marks - which just made it all look a bit scruffy. This wall of flats produced a very binary landscape that got pretty monotonous to look at after a while and the cast battled on occasion to keep the panels in the right position.
I'm struggling to find the positives. The cast had a pretty good pedigree, and the lights where nice, but the show is riddled with unsubtle cheap gags and unsympathetic characters. The comments on leaving the auditorium kind of summed it up for me, as one girl behind me turned to her boyfriend and said 'I hope that's the worse thing we're seeing, 'cos it can only get better than that.'