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Published 8 January 2014

If you thought Simon Slater was multi-talented from his work as an actor and composer for shows including Mamma Mia! and Constellations, you can think again.

The plethora of skills he demonstrates in Bloodshot outweighs those of a Hogwarts-trained one-man band receiving comedy lessons from Peter Kay.

He sings. He plays the ukulele. His short stints on saxophone are arresting. He swallows razor blades. Cigarettes emerge from behind audience members’ ears. And he survives cutting deep into his arm with a kitchen knife.

Not what you were expecting from a crime thriller? There is drama too, not to mention significant helpings of humour and suspense, all of which Slater evokes through his physically and emotionally challenging performance as the play’s diverse range of characters, and all from a cramped stage housing little more than a small round table and a filing cabinet.

Indeed the floor space he has to manoeuvre isn’t much bigger than the screen mounted above it that dominates the candle-lit room with its striking portraits of a young woman.

The play charts the story of the man behind these images, ex-police photographer Derek Eveleigh, who receives correspondence from a stranger requesting that he documents the movements of a mysterious woman with his camera. It’s a shady proposition, but as his only meal-ticket he is left no choice but to accept. What he doesn’t expect is for his elegant muse to be shot dead as he follows her through Holland Park, turning the covert mission into his own secret murder investigation.

The setting is 1950s London and Derek is a man married to the bottle, traumatised by the atrocities of the preceding war that he confronted through the lens of his camera. From the intimate studio, we are transported to Archway, Pimlico, Notting Hill and Mayfair as he takes us on his alcohol-fuelled journey to discover the individual responsible for the killing.

As with all good murder mysteries, there’s an unexpected twist. Yet nothing is as surprising as the eclectic evening of entertainment provided by this one-man thriller. But how could you expect anything less from a performer as talented as Slater in a play, by Douglas Post, that has been specifically tailored to his abilities?


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