Blood Ties (The Performing Arts Collective) 2012 SummerWorks Review

Blood Ties is a delightfully (and morbidly) hilarious chamber musical about four friends stuck with the daunting task of cleaning up after a suicide. A one-time performance that is part of SummerWorks’ Musical Works in Concert series left the crowd in stitches while toe-tapping and humming along.

Childhood friends Paul (Justin Goodhand), Franny (Eliza-Jane Scott) and Larry (Justin Bott) have gathered in time for Sheila’s (Megan Nuttall) bachelorette party, her wedding days away. When they arrive at Sheila’s aunt’s home, they realize that the bathroom is covered in blood. Sheila’s uncle Conrad (Scott Walker) has committed suicide and Sheila now needs her friends to help clean up the mess.

As the friends hesitantly take to scrubbing away the caked-on brain from the tiles, the hidden dynamics of their life-long friendships are revealed as well as the shockingly twisted details of what really happened to Uncle Conrad. This is a performance that, though it asks the audience to laugh and be amused in the wake of a tragedy, takes a deeper look at societal values and how far we will go to protect ourselves and the ones we love during times of disaster.

Blood Ties is a work in progress from The Performing Arts Collective, currently in its fourth carnation. It’s not a finished production and still has a lot of room to grow and mature. That still doesn’t take away from the high entertainment value the production already holds.

There is no stage set to be seen and the actors are all seated with their scripts in front of them. The piano is played by musical director Jeff Newberry with stage narrations recited by Julian Richings.

The actors go through the full performance, taking seats when they walk out of the room. You use your imagination to imagine what they’re seeing and how they interact. I found that this actually allowed for the songs and the voices to stand out more as you aren’t distracted by stage dressing.

And the voices! Oh my, the voices! Standing ovation to the cast for their spectacular voices. I do have to admit, the ladies stood out for me in this, the range of Nuttall and Scott’s soaring voices are simply beautiful.

The story writing is also highly commendable and the twist at the end is definitely interesting. ¬†Applause to writers Anika Johnson and Barbara Johnston for penning such an unusual yet amusing story that can truly ensnare ¬†an audience. The production is based on a true story, one can only imagine…

I can’t wait to see what happens with Blood Ties next and look forward to seeing it in its full glory when the journey of creation is complete. Though the show only had a single night’s run in this year’s SummerWorks festival, it is definitely a production worth keeping track of to see what will happen with it next.