Theatre Of Blood - The National - Lyttleton Theatre, London

Ones To Watch

August 10th 2005

by Philip Ellwood


‘Theatre Of Blood‘ has been adapted from the 1973 film of the same name which starred horror icon Vincent Price. Whilst the film was quite sinister and spine-tingling, the theatrical production takes a tongue-in-cheek approach. To make ‘Theatre Of Blood‘ suitable for the stage, the story has been slightly altered and some characters changed. This does not detract from the original classic story.

Seven theatre critics find themselves invited to a disused theatre after receiving mysterious invitations. The critics bump into each other and soon realise that they have been lured there under false pretences. After a short discussion they make the decision to leave but soon find that leaving isn‘t quite as easy as they had hoped. One critic gets separated from the group and comes face to face with an actor everyone believed to be dead, Edward Lionheart. Lionheart was believed to have killed himself after the taunts written about his acting by the group of critics but Lionheart is not dead. He is very much alive and ready for revenge....

The production is magnificent. The stage and sets are remarkable and the cast work together to pull off a fantastic performance. Jim Broadbent steals the show everytime he is on stage. His portrayal of Edward Lionheart is a tour de force. Broadbent had the audience laughing, shrieking and even managed to capture their sympathy. He flexed every one of his acting muscles to give a captivating performance. Even though Lionheart is ruthless in his revenge and clearly deserved the critical mauling he received from the group of critics the audience could not help sympathising with him. The character is a victim of his own self-belief. His refusal to accept any criticism led him to his supposed death. Lionheart‘s bad acting is shown intermittently as he acts out famous Shakespearean scenes whilst killing each of his victims.

‘Theatre Of Blood‘ was thoroughly enjoyable. Never before have I seen so much blood shed on a stage. The play ran for a little over 2hours 30mins but it never once outstayed its welcome. The play was witty, scary, emotional and full of suspense. Jim Broadbent is perfectly cast as the disillusioned Edward Lionheart and provided a constant source of entertainment.

If you fancy a night out with your tongue firmly placed in your cheek then ‘Theatre Of Blood‘ is the show you should see. I highly recommend it.


Paul Bentall
Bette Bourne
Jim Broadbent
Hayley Carmichael
Sally Dexter
Mark Lockyer
Tim McMullan
Steve Steen
Rachael Stirling

Director: Phelim McDermott

Celebrities Worldwide Rating: 9 out 10




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