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Edinburgh Fringe 2012

Inheritance Blues

Dugout Theatre Company

Genre: Drama


 Bedlam Theatre


Low Down

Inheritance blues is a story told be a blues cover band. The story is about three brothers after their fathers funeral waiting to open a letter, during this time they argue over what their father was really like. Therefore, we learn about their father through flashbacks into his life. The whole play is accompanied and carried by live music, the actors and musicians swap roles, and both exert strong musical and theatrical talent.


Inheritance blues is a story told by a blues cover band. The story is about three brothers in a pub in Dorset after their father’s funeral waiting to open a letter, their father’s inheritance letter. The blues cover band and the three brothers get snowed in and therefore get drunk together to while away the time. Six men locked in a pub, drinking, and tensions over boil and the truth about their father comes out, with varying opinions from the brothers. 

The brothers are well formed characters, The older is a posh type, boarding school, well-spoken, The youngest brother  is a cockney, wheeler-dealer, a little desperate, and The middle brother is a more brooding solid character until he has an outburst, obviously closest to the mother, resentful of his father and proud of making his way on his own. The brothers work well as a threesome, even if a tad stereotypical.

The blues cover band also have well balanced characters, and terrific names, On keys is Scissor hands, trying to push the band, using every situation as an opportunity, On Guitar is King Pin, an erratic man, nervous disposition, extremely funny, and on percussion is Champagne, a calm centered man, mysterious and prone to preaching hippy wisdoms at inappropriate times.

The blues cover band tell the story by stopping and starting the action, the performers freeze and the band argue over whether it was that funny or not, the action is rewound and plays over again, this time with less laughter. This technique has great comic effect on the audience, at times it was over played and this old-fashioned ‘freeze frame’ method felt tired.

The moment of genius was the first flashback into 1940’s America, a blues bar, the lights fade and the actors tip their trilby’s low over their faces, pop on dark sunglasses, sway when they walk. It is a wonderful transformation of atmosphere. Saxophone is a brilliant instrument, the sound sours over us and it is extremely exciting. Then, from the back of the audience enters ‘Light Foot Louie’ holding his own Saxophone, he confronts the father character and they play together – in a triumphant Saxophone-off! 

The comedy within the show is very well scripted and directed, they get the awkwardness bang on. The story is also punctuated by a cappella group singing; this is a treat and a nice break from the action. I would have liked more of this singing, and more music in general, maybe because the actual story wasn’t of great interest. When the play progressed and the attention led more onto the brothers having it out with each other, and the blues band merely standing by my attention frayed. The opening of the letter does not hold enough gravitas or suspense to keep us with the brothers, and so when it is opened and a sort-of wizard of oz ending occurs, each brother is given something (a medal, a photo) it doesn’t feel important.

For me, the peak happened in the middle and then never came again. I was kept extremely happy by the excellent comedy throughout and delighted by strong acting and great direction, but left wishing more of the character of American blues. The audience where with this show for the whole time, it was a good evening’s entertainment and to end by then placing the whole action within a cruise ship show was a nice touch.

They may not have won me over completely but i would recommend this company and this show. Definately keep an eye out for Dugout Theatre in the future – a talented bunch!