The writers and performers of
I see no reason why dark musical theatre can't be successful - but in this case it really wasn't.
Bonded by Blood, brought by the duo’s self-started theatre company 3B Theatre, promises to give an "uncomfortably fascinating" musical journey through the dark depths and disgusting deeds of Ian Brady and Myra Hindley. Most importantly this show asks, "would you do absolutely anything for love?"
The beginning lost me slightly. We see two rag-covered demonic minions enter and appear to talk to satan himself, who (apparently) wants to hear an evil story from them. It's not that the characterisation wasn't strong; it just didn't make much sense.
Rags ditched and with exaggerated makeup and black and white sixties costumes, coupled with a vacant puppet-like expression from Armstrong and a demonic scowl from Dell, this show finally then gets somewhere close to getting off on the right foot. Dell in particular was chillingly intense with his delivery and eye contact. With the use of children's stuffed animals props and real life news report voiceovers, I started to see something very exciting emerging.
The story focuses mainly on Hindley's connection to the events that unfolded between 1963 and 1965, in particular the idea that she did what she did due to an illogical and naive amount of love for Brady, a subject that should have been fascinating.
The problem for me isn't, as some would think, the subject matter in hand. My issue is how it has been dealt with. Such a dark and psychologically harrowing concept needed to be handled with a gentle respect and huge amount of skill. Not with bad keyboard playing, clunky harmonies and repetitive, amateurish melodies. Indeed any moments of success were for me wiped out by Satan’s Sing-a-Long Song which I quite frankly found distasteful as well as completely and unequivocally unnecessary. I see no reason why dark musical theatre can't be successful - but in this case it really wasn't.