I love outdoor theatre but have to admit I was disappointed by the last time I tried it in York, so approached Blood + Chocolate with some caution.
I think my high standards may stem back to when I was a child and I saw an outdoor production of The Lord of The Rings.
Now, I do think I was quite young when I saw it, so I admit my memories may not be entirely accurate but I swear that the actual novel unfolded around us as we huddled amongst the hobbits, explored the countryside with riders on horseback and watched amazed as wizards battled around us.
Now, even if this experience has been somewhat exaggerated by my childhood mind my recent experience with ‘A Midsummer’s Night Dream’ performed in York city centre was disappointing.
Huddled amongst the Friday night drunks and battling to hear as a group of players stood still in front of us and recited their lines.
Suffice to say we made a swift exit as soon as was possible, for £12 I had expected more.
I’m relieved to say however that Blood + Chocolate suffered from none of these things.
A collaboration between Pilot Theatre, Slung Low and York Theatre Royal, Blood + Chocolate depicted a the story of York soldiers and their loved ones.
A very unique experience, the story unfolded at various locations around the city. A mixture of live action, film scenes projected onto York buildings, action sets, dance and music the production held your interest throughout.
Any possible issues of not being able to hear were handled by each person being given their own headphones and volume controls which played haunting music dialogue throughout so even if, for a moment, you couldn’t see the action you could always hear.
As a shorter person I often struggle with the strains and struggles of not being able to see in a large crowd and the Blood + Chocolate audience was definitely a large enough crowd (I’m told almost 300!) so this could have easily been a problem.
However, a lot of thought had gone into the staging and every attempt was made to position actors up high where ever possible. This, along with helpful touches such as people positioned in the crowd to point out where the action was taking place, meant that you didn’t really miss a thing.
With a cast of over 200, this was definitely an impressive and large scale production but the story it told was intricate and delicate giving glimpses into how the First World War affected so many lives.
I have to admit that at times I found it hard to follow exactly who was who and what was going on but this could have been my lack of historical knowledge more than anything else letting me down.
I’m ashamed to say I spent most of the first half waiting for Hitler to show up only to be told in a hushed voice later that I had the wrong war!
Overall, the story was touching and really quite emotional showing the devastating effect the war had on so many people from York.
Tickets are very reasonably priced for the scale of the experience and the play is running from October 3rd to October 20th 2013.
I think all tickets may have sold out now, although you can follow @pilot_theatre on Twitter who will be announcing any ticket returns from there.
Read more about the production on the Pilot Theatre website.
You can also watch a live webstream of the play on October 17th.