Forced Entertainment, Bloody Mess

Review in Issue 16-2 | Summer 2004

One two one two. The hairy PA guys drag mic leads across a wide stage occupied by a foul-mouthed cheerleader, a gyrating rock chick and an actress lying on the ground who’s wandered into the wrong show. There’s a gorilla, and a couple of sad clowns who turn nasty. The panoramic span also takes in the onstage/backstage detritus of a rock gig: broken chairs, disco ‘traffic lights’, silver cardboard stars, foil ribbons…

As deconstruction is the game, let’s steal a trick from Levi-Strauss – Bloody Mess is to Rock ‘n’ Roll as First Night is to Variety. Together, they are a twinned investigation into the contract between performer and audience that is ‘Theatre’.

In First Night, Forced Entertainment asked: What is an audience? Why are you here and what do you want? In Bloody Mess the question is: What is a performer? Why are we here and what do we want? Rock music, an ego-driven performance mode, is the perfect metaphor for this investigation. The question is set up transparently as each of the ten performers confides his or her hopes to the audience… it’s downhill from then on and no one gets off lightly. What follows is a get-down-and-get-dirty, thrilling, horrible, fantastic, cathartic, wet and sticky two hours.

This is a ‘culmination’ show that marks the company’s 20-year anniversary. If you are fan of Forced you’ll like the blurring of truth and fiction in biographical detail; the familiar visual motifs – clown make-up, animal costumes; the interview technique, the confessions and the endless lists. If you’ve never seen them – this is a good place to start: Bloody Mess has some of the elements of earlier durational performances whilst holding tight to its dramaturgical purpose. If you don’t like them – well, stay away. You’ll only be disappointed.

Presenting Artists
Presenting Venue
Date Seen
  1. May 2004

This article in the magazine

Issue 16-2
p. 26