Sam and Emma’s Mum has cancer. She needs a transfusion - and needs one from the rare blood type of AB negative. Joe is a match. He is not allowed to donate because he is in a homosexual relationship with Sam. Even for those in monogamous relationships, current policy denies active homosexuals from donating.

This is a controversial enough topic to dominate a play, yet the production managed to be about so much more than a socio-medical policy. It could have very easily become a vehicle of controversy, but to the credit of the company, family and relationship dynamics took centre stage. I was incredibly impressed with the easy chemistry between Sam and Joe; in my experience, far too often in theatre the token ‘gay’ couple is limp-wristed to the point of caricature, with the feeling that if there is no simpering the sexual orientation of the characters is not sufficiently clear. However, the dynamic between the couple was affectionate and loving: altogether healthier than their heterosexual counterparts, Emma and her flash boyfriend Charlie.

Charlie was a character of unprecedented disgustingness even from his first interaction with Sam, cutting him off with a cruel ‘Already heard the Queen’s speech this year’ and a fey gesture. His infidelity to Emma was later shown with graphic candidness; dressed only in miniscule underwear, he chucks an evidently used condom into a bin. Though Emma was far from an angel - enticed by the wealth and security Charlie’s high-flying career was able to give her, and selfishly leaving all responsibility for their mother with Sam. Despite her unattractiveness as a character, she did not deserve the extent of bad karma coming back in her face. As such the audience were unwilling to indulge in the slightest schadenfreude at her ultimate betrayal, which was truly horrible.

Dirty, in the coarse sense of the word, yes - Sam opens the play with a monologue on pubic hair, asking why it isn’t treated with the same care as the hair on your head, despite all hair follicles being made up of the same formula of keratin. This makes parallels between the clean, donate-able blood of heterosexuals and the ‘dirty’ blood of homosexuals. Dirty, but at the same time thought-provoking, serious and tender.

Reviews by Laura Francis

theSpace on Niddry St

The Bastard Queen

★★
Traverse Theatre

Pre-View:

★★★
The Assembly Rooms

A Split Decision

★★
Pleasance Courtyard

Show Off

★★

Since you’re here…

… we have a small favour to ask. We don't want your money to support a hack's bar bill at Abattoir, but if you have a pound or two spare, we really encourage you to support a good cause. If this review has either helped you discover a gem or avoid a turkey, consider doing some good that will really make a difference.

You can donate to the charity of your choice, but if you're looking for inspiration, there are three charities we really like.

Mama Biashara
Kate Copstick’s charity, Mama Biashara, works with the poorest and most marginalised people in Kenya. They give grants to set up small, sustainable businesses that bring financial independence and security. That five quid you spend on a large glass of House White? They can save someone’s life with that. And the money for a pair of Air Jordans? Will take four women and their fifteen children away from a man who is raping them and into a new life with a moneymaking business for Mum and happiness for the kids.
Donate to Mama Biashara now

Theatre MAD
The Make A Difference Trust fights HIV & AIDS one stage at a time. Their UK and International grant-making strategy is based on five criteria that raise awareness, educate, and provide care and support for the most vulnerable in society. A host of fundraising events, including Bucket Collections, Late Night Cabarets, West End Eurovision, West End Bares and A West End Christmas continue to raise funds for projects both in the UK and Sub-Saharan Africa.
Donate to Theatre MAD now

Acting For Others
Acting for Others provides financial and emotional support to all theatre workers in times of need through the 14 member charities. During the COVID-19 crisis Acting for Others have raised over £600,000 to support theatre workers affected by the pandemic.
Donate to Acting For Others now

The Blurb

‘So Joe - if I bashed your head in, Mum could have your heart. She could take your kidneys, liver, pancreas, even your bones. But alive today, she can't have your blood.' New Writing. Scottish Playwright. www.dirtybloodplay.co.uk.

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