Chicago Theater Review: BLOODSHOT (Greenhouse Theater Center)

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by Lawrence Bommer on August 17, 2016

in Theater-Chicago


Making its U.S. debut at the Greenhouse Theater Center, the solo saga Bloodshot, by Chicago native Douglas Post, feels as world weary and viscerally violent as its supple title. A superb vehicle for British dynamo Simon Slater that’s been touring the UK and Europe since 2011, the taut thriller is a long haul—two hours—for a one-person vehicle. But Slater has enough chops, grit and nerve to unleash a complete rogues’ gallery of the London underworld circa 1957.

Simon Slater in Bloodshot

The result is a tale so treacherous you should even suspect this non-spoiling synopsis. Relating it—as faithfully as it hit him—is Derek Eveleigh, a hard-drinking, weatherbeaten free-lance photographer (“Have lens, will travel”). He never should have opened the letter that came through his mail slot one sodden night. Derek specializes in incognito snapshots of people in unposed moments of truth. (His real “dark room” is inside him.) So it’s not unusual for a patron (with a curious name) to ask him to surreptitiously photograph a special stranger–Cassandra Aron, a young, beautiful black woman who frequents a local park and who piques more than Derek’s professional interests.

Simon Slater in Bloodshot

We first—and last—see Derek looming over a bridge railing, contemplating suicide with a kind of dry delight. In between we discover why. Let’s just say that an early outrage–a Molotov cocktail explosion, followed by a kill shot in demure Notting Hill—is just the inception. In time Derek discovers that his sudden assignment links him to three men who Cassandra, a West Indian immigrant and would-be performer, has accused of rape—a very inept Irish comic, an American jazz saxophonist, and a Russian magician. Each, it seems, has exploited the budding and, we fear, doomed Cassandra.

Simon Slater in Bloodshot 6As Slater effortlessly transports us from one seedy dive to the next shameless dump, he plays a mean instrument, sports authentic accents, and displays astonishing sleight-of-hand. He’s easily as ingenious as a script that employs artful misdirection to keep us in a constant state of curiosity and uncertainty: Like Derek’s camera negatives, everything that happens to this far from passive observer awaits development.

Bloodshot is a bit like Rear Window meets Blow Up, a tale of dangerous voyeurism that morphs into tale-spinning vertigo. As staged by British maven Patrick Sandford, with persuasive projections depicting Derek’s Kodak moments, the two-act tour de terror twists us as much as the plot. Afterwards, as you look back at a contrived but satisfying ending, you realize that Derek was a catspaw in one too many games. But by then we’ve bought the action, falling for Cassandra as much as suspense and love allow.

Simon Slater in Bloodshot

Simon Slater in BloodshotBloodshot
part of Solo Celebration!
Greenhouse Theater Center
2257 N. Lincoln Ave.
ends on September 10, 2016
for tickets, call 773.404.7336
or visit Greenhouse

for more shows, visit Theatre in Chicago


Lonnie Carter August 18, 2016 at 12:49 am

As only the Great Douglas Post can do! And, no doubt, the actor as well.

Joe September 1, 2016 at 8:30 pm

Engrossing theater showcasing the multi talented Simon Slater should not be missed. The production at the comfortable Greenhouse Theater transported me back in time to theater I enjoyed in London in previous decades.

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