It was the trial of the century, two centuries ago. Now, thanks to the brave pen of local playwright Joseph Aragon, the grisly case of William Burke and William Hare is a musical danse macabre.
True, in real life, Burke and Hare’s murders — done to produce corpses to sell to the lucrative medical-school market — weren’t punctuated by outbreaks of song and dance. But though Aragon’s script otherwise sticks close to history, Bloodless’s creative liberties inform a wickedly entertaining spectacle.
If you like your humour black, drink this one down. The antagonists (played by Murray Farnell and Derek Leenhouts) are rakishly comic, there’s a frolicking ditty about the bone structure of the pelvis and plenty of tongue-in-cheek conniving from Burke and Hare’s wives. But there’s heart in this one too, highlighted by the plucky actor playing intrepid prostitute Janet Brown.
Throw in some tough working-class Scottish and Irish accents (well mastered by the strong cast) and a plethora of memorable songs, and Bloodless is an off-beat tour de force: smart, dark, and daring.
— Melissa Martin
From the official Fringe program:
Up the close and down the stair,
A but-and-ben with Burke and Hare.
Burke’s the butcher,
Hare’s the thief,
Knox the boy who buys the beef.
Robbing graves for medical science is backbreaking work. So why dig up corpses when you can create your own?
"A composer with uncommon talent and potential. ****" - Winnipeg Free Press (Lucrezia Borgia, 2007)
Directed by Sharon Bajer.