Sunday, October 2

Blood Harmony – Traverse Theatre

Commissioned and produced by ThickSkin and Lawrence Batley Theatre, the Traverse has brought Blood Harmony to the Edinburgh Fringe Festival.

Writer Matthew Bulgo has created a musical focused upon the grief of three sisters, Chloe (Eve de Leon Allen), Maia (Keshini Misha) and Anna (Philippa Hogg), who are coming to terms with the death of their mother. Reunited after time apart, the sisters reacquaint themselves and find that they are living vastly different lives, and they struggle to understand each other’s way of thinking.

Anna lives overseas, is arrogant and career minded, and it becomes clear that she had not visited her mother for some years. Maia is unconventional, lurching from one disaster to another, she struggles to support herself and uses drink and drugs as her escape. Chloe, the youngest has stayed at home, looking after their mother, and she was the one who found her, when she passed away.

The funeral day arrives, and the sisters attend together, a humanist funeral has been organised, and Anna in particular feels that this was not a desirable choice, and why did Chloe make these choices without asking them. At this point it becomes clear that communication between the sisters has been infrequent. Maia and Anna have lived their lives without consideration of their younger sister’s needs or the needs of their mother.

The melodic songs using harmonies to bring the sisters together, seems poignant. Using music by The Staves, joint direction and choreography from Jonnie Riordan and Jess Williams, the play has the appearance of gently flowing along. There is an undercurrent however, as the sisters past comes back to them via the reflection of memories, this brings to the surface feelings that have been repressed.

Lighting designer Charly Dunford interestingly uses a series of suspended bulbs to create a feeling of the evening sky, whilst strip-lighting is used for the more dramatic moments, and this contrasts with candles, for the more intimate emotional exchanges. These visual effects in lighting, assist in accentuating the mood changes

The theme of grief runs thickly through the play, and will, I am sure resonate with most viewers. Witnessing the struggles of three individual sisters, pulling together to support each other despite their differences, makes this very relatable. The roles are played sympathetically by de Leon Allen, Misha and Hogg, and the emotional nature of the story, interweaved with the harmonic music directed by Kate Marlais, and the fluid dance movements, create a charming, but emotive play.

Blood Harmony runs until the 28th August at the Traverse Theatre. To book tickets go to –

Reviewer: Caroline Worswick

Reviewed: 11th August 2022

North West End UK Rating: ★★★★