The Bloody Ballad
Foot-stompin’ gig with dramatic interludes
This article is from 2013.
A redneck, rockabilly gig-cum-musical, The Bloody Ballad tells the story of Mary (Lucy Rivers), a Southern gal whose upbringing has left her with scars both physical and emotional. Salvation seems to present itself in the arrival of Connor, a swaggering young chap whose family have just moved into the neighbourhood, but just as the couple’s happiness seems assured, a series of events drenched in blood and moonshine put paid to their plans.
Rivers and her band are fantastic musical performers, and while their acting skills are perhaps less refined, the format of the production – almost a straight-up gig, with dramatic interludes – lends itself well to their particular skill-set. The plot hares along for the most part, although some sections do drag a little, and despite some close-to-the-bone songs such as ‘What My Daddy Done (in A Minor)’ , you’ll sometimes find yourself wishing for something that lives up to the high standard set by Nick Cave, who pretty much cornered the market on murder ballads with his album of that name. Still, these are minor quibbles in a show that abounds with verve and character.
Something to bear in mind though – despite its foot-stompin’ soundtrack, some scenes in The Bloody Ballad do make for uncomfortable viewing, especially those in which Mary suffers beatings or sings about incest. You’ve been warned.
Assembly Roxy, 623 3030, until 25 Aug (not 12 & 19), 7.45pm, £12–£14 (£10–£12).