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Watermill auditorium reopens: this is why we love live theatre

One-man tour de force thriller

Trish Lee

Trish Lee

trish.lee@newburynews.co.uk

Contact:

01635 886663

Watermill

Bloodshot Photo Credit Marc Brenner

Bloodshot, at The Watermill, Bagnor, until Saturday, October 17

Review by ROBIN STRAPP

THERE was a palpable ripple of excitement as the audience  The Watermill auditorium after six long months of  enforced closure as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic. It was beautifully prepared for social distancing, with red bows tied around
the seats that were to be kept empty, in anticipation of one day being unwrapped when things return to relative normality.

Douglas Post’s psychological thriller Bloodshot, set in 1957, is an excellent whodunit that keeps you guessing right
up to the denouement. It’s a one-man play and the multi-talented Simon Slater gives a highly impressive, versatile performance as Derek Everleigh. He’s an ex-police photographer, dismissed from the force on account of his alcoholism. As he tells the audience: “First you take a drink, then the drink takes a drink, then the drink takes you.”

His work for the Picture Post is coming to an end as the publication is going bust, the rent on his sparse basement flat – design by Agnes Dewhurst – is increasing and his world is at rock-bottom. ...That is until a manila envelopecontaining money arrives with a note offering him an assignment to take photos of Cassandra Ammons (Amanda Wilkins), a young black woman who worked as a magician’s assistant in a club in Mayfair.

He secretly follows her taking the required photos that are projected on to a large screen at the back of the stage. When Cassandra is found brutally murdered in Holland Park, Everleigh is determined to discover who her killer was.

The plot has many intriguing twists and turns, but there are apparently three very different suspects, including a burlesque-style Irish banjo playing comic whose jokes are appropriate for the time, but may jar a little for today’s politically correct audiences.

Then there is the American saxophone- playing jazz musician. Finally, we meet the Russian restaurateur, who performs some incredible magic tricks, including swallowing razor blades. All these characters are skilfully played by Slater, who gives a tour de force performance.

Patrick Sanford’s surefooted taut direction keeps the action and tension bubbling along in this superb ‘film noir’ production.

Slater thoroughly deserved the enthusiastic applause at the end and the murderer was…
Well you will have to go to find out.
Highly recommended.

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