Fourth Monkey’s Grimm Tales: The Bloody Countess

Strong late-night gore-fest focuses on blood and torture rather than character and plot

Menstrual blood, lesbian rape, torture, murder and more – Fourth Monkey’s late-night shocker The Bloody Countess is hardly for the faint-hearted. Devised by the company as a counterpart to their three Brothers Grimm tales elsewhere on the Fringe, it’s based around the legend of the 16th-century Hungarian countess Erzsébet Báthory, reputed to have bathed in the blood of hundreds of virgins to maintain her youthful looks.

Staged impressively in the round, with none of the audience more than a couple of feet away from the action, it’s a show that bristles with dark energy – something emphasised by the enormous cast of 26, who can create quite a wall of sound and mass of seething movement when they’re all on stage together. And there are some fine solo performances among them, notably Holly Scott as a butter-wouldn’t-melt young countess already well versed in methods of torture.

It’s strong on theatricality, bold and fast-moving, and gratifyingly suggestive rather than graphic – gaping wounds and brutal torture are evoked through fabrics and movement rather than gallons of blood.

But despite the show’s subtleties, the focus is squarely on shock and gore, often at the expense of the more mundane issues of character and plot – it’s not always clear why things are happening, and we get little insight into the characters’ motivations. As a late-night carnage-fest, it’s wildly successful, but it could have been a lot more.

SpaceTriplex, 510 2395, until 29 Aug (not 16, 23), 10.45pm, £12 (£10)

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