While the spectre of AIDS and HIV has played an important part in all our lives for three decades, and a number of scripts have been written about this, most have focussed on either the impact of the epidemic or on the lives of those directly affected.
British playwright Paul Sirett has decided to focus his attention on the research that is being conducted in third world countries, where life-saving drugs are not freely available and the moral ambiguities that this may bring.
Clare (Glenda Linscott) is an Australian medical researcher conducting a double-blind trial with three groups of HIV-infected pregnant mothers in an un-named African country, in an attempt to see if a cheaper, newer drug can reduce the percentage of infection for their unborn children.
Into her office and her focussed world enters a young African man, Patrice (Blessing Mokgohloa), who works as an Administration Assistant at the hospital. At first he seems to want to learn from her, in the hope of travelling to the United States to study at university.
Their playful relationship, however, starts to take some dramatic and dangerous turns, as doubts about his motivation, and questions about her integrity and the very moral substance of her work come to the fore.
Bad Blood Blues is certainly a gripping and very interesting, if not perfect play. The character of Clare is at times a little too sympathetic and has some sudden outbursts that seem a little melodramatic (the storyline is covered in a rapid 70 minutes, which is possibly why this seems the case). Linscott however, charges through and delivers an accomplished, very strong performance.
Mokgohloa, who has the good fortune of delivering most of the surprises in the play, is terrific in the role of Patrice, and is totally believable, with an accent that never wavers (he was born in Zimbabwe). These two actors, on stage throughout the play, work remarkebly well together. Director Chris Parker must be commended for bringing out these two really good performances and in the use of live music, performed by David Marama.
Bad Blood Blues raises many interesting questions, especially about the real value of these studies on what is in effect human guinea pigs. The effect is not only entertaining, but also rivetting.
Manilla Street Productions
Bad Blood Blues
by Paul Sirett
Director Chris Parker
Venue: Chapel Off Chapel | Little Chapel St, Prahran
Dates: 11 – 24 November, 2011
Times: 8pm, Matinees Saturday & Sunday 4pm
Tickets: Adult $45, Concession $39 (+Transaction Fee)
Duration: 80 Minutes (No Interval)
Bookings: www.chapeloffchapel.com.au | 03 8290 7000