Was it worth the money? – A review on Blood Money

Photos by Iresha Umagiliya

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Those who closely associate with me know that I disregard my relationship with the individuals in question when it comes to giving out my genuine opinion. This is my unbiased view as a witness to the stage performance of ‘Blood Money’ a play presented by Silent Hands Theatre Circle, directed by Javin Thomas & produced by Jehan Bastians.

I went to watch the play on closing night, by which time I had received many mixed reviews by credible and theatre savvy folks. Geee… I was pretty confused with regard to my expectations.
The lights came on to an eerie rape scene which turned out to be sexual role play between Mike Mason and Sue, the girl next door. The scene was complimented by the tunes of Massive attack. I had a hmmm….. moment. One of those moments where you wouldn’t call it a brilliantly performed scene, nor was it bad either. Although I’d say it is important that a play begins on a high. But that didn’t stop me from enjoying the rest of the performance.

The first thing the production team did right is with regard to the choice of script. It was most certainly refreshing in comparison to the choices Silent Hands have made in the past. The second, the casting.

When I walked into the theatre I was expecting to watch a dark play. But as the play proceeded, I was confused. The performance had the right balance of humour, sarcasm and emotion. Something I really appreciate is the fact that the performers did not confine the script to a particular style. And their mixed styles worked in most cases. For instance, the lighter bits of the play were portrayed very light, the darker bits were also portrayed somewhat light while the really dark bits were portrayed really dark. And that contrast for me worked and kept me at the edge of my seat. By doing so, they managed to cater to a variety of audiences with different tastes. This is indeed a pointer even I can take into the future. However, certain bits got me confused whether the styles were put on stage by chance or whether they were pre-planned. For example, in the second act when Liz was stabbing Mike to death, there was a rather light element to it with a dash of slapstick. I was a little confused as to whether it was a mild case of bad acting or an attempt towards a style of portrayal. If it was the style they were aiming for, I’d say they could have made it a bit more obvious to get rid of the confusion.

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Looking at some of the other positives, I thought it was a brave choice to use funny voices for the phone calls, and it worked for me. There was some good use of stage. It’s not an easy task to spook people with a stage performance. I was pretty spooked at the end of the 1st act. The only thing that slightly ruined it for me was to see a few backstage folks running behind the set to get the cues on time. That being said, the set was designed well. The lighting, brilliant! Sound management– partially fail.

Getting into casting. I think the actors did a good job overall. It was nice to see a good role fit for Neidra Williams after a while. She portrayed her character quite well in the first half. Managed to be the right amount of ‘annoying’ as required by her character, and she also pulled off the sarcasm and panicking bits quite well. However, I felt that the shift in her character which was demanded by the role in the second half could have been a lot better.
Talking about shifts in character, Dr. Campbell played by Shanuki succeeded there. I wanted to give her a tight squishy hug in appreciation of her performance, and I went backstage and did just that. Her shift in emotions within seconds was very impressive and a great to pleasure watch. I was quite moved by the last scene of the play and was still in an um… state when I went backstage.

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Gem seemed to be enjoying his five minutes of fame and Mike Mason played by Andre did a decent job too. Sue Thompson played by Liza De Jong…. Hmmmm did not expect that. I had not heard of Liza nor have I seen her playing prominent characters in the past so I really did not expect much from her. She most certainly did a good job on stage. Pat on her back. Good Job’ Good Job’

Overall I think the play was directed quite well for Sri Lankan standards. I appreciate the fact that not a single moment left me in boredom. That is not easy. In fact I think this was one of Silent Hands’ best performances. I congratulate Javin for his successful debut and everyone else involved in shaping the production.

So, was it worth the money? If I had known earlier, I’d have bought the most expensive seats in the house.

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