17/03/2021 - 20/03/2021
Against the best wishes of the New Zealand Medical Association and Saint John’s Wellington, David Bowers-Mason presents a show that breaks down walls between the genres of stand-up comedy, intense experimental theatre, and live blood donation.
Saving a life starts when you book.
If you want to donate blood through the NZ Blood Service call 0800 448 325, or visit the website at www.nzblood.co.nz
The Fringe Bar, 26-32 Allen Street, Te Aro, Wellington
Wed 17 – Sat 20 March 2021
Theatre , Stand-up comedy , Solo ,
Has pace and a good flow
Review by Emilie Hope 18th Mar 2021
As I walk into The Fringe Bar, I can’t quite figure out why there’s a low turnout. We’re at Level 1, it’s a comedy show, at a peak location at the peak time of 7pm… Is it because it’s called Bloodbag and it’s evoking some vampire imagery? Surely not all of Wellington is sanguivoriphobic? And if you are, don’t worry, there’s only one moment when comedian David Bowers-Mason ingests blood, and it’s fake blood anyway. At least, I hope it is…
Bowers-Mason is a deadpan comedian who ranges from casting a spotlight on small edible milk products like cheese to larger issues such as the gay blood type who has to wait three months after coitus before being able to donate blood. All while having a long tube run from his arm to behind the Fringe curtain, ‘donating’ blood. Whom or what he is giving blood to is revealed later in the show, so I won’t spoil that.
The audience feels comfortable with Bowers-Mason, and the small crowd doesn’t deter him in the slightest. If anything, he works with this, stepping into the audience to talk to people in the front row – shout out to Jesse for being the sacrificial audience member Bowers-Mason turns to on occasion, whom he refers to as “Audience Name”.
Bowers-Mason uses his physical body at times to be the joke as well, squatting in an awkward fashion. I find this a generous thing for performers to do, which is surprisingly rare: making themselves the joke so that the audience knows they won’t be the joke. Some comedians can be antagonistic and argumentative with their audience – not Bowers-Mason. Although he is quick on his feet with any surprising outcries from the audience.
It’s not all fun and games. Bloodbag has pace and a good flow (excuse the pun). This helps keep us engaged throughout the tight 50-minute show. Moments can begin serious and develop into silliness, or turn into a rather comedic story. This ebb and flow shows there has been real care and attention given to the show’s development.
The blood thing is real. Sort of. The tube connected to his arm is not real, but twice during the show he mentions feeling woozy and so goes to sit in the large, grey and red leather reclining blood donation chair. And towards the end of the show, Bowers-Mason gives a content warning as he truly does try to get blood out of his hand with a needle. However, for people who are haematophobic, trypanophobic or simply don’t want to watch, Bowers-Mason has prepared a video slide show with audio at the back of the Fringe Bar space for us to look at. And it’s pretty funny. I’m torn between watching the slideshow and looking at how he’s going to extract blood from himself. A yellow biohazard bin is on stage for him to safely dispose of his syringes.
I’m annoyed at all the empty seats. They’ve all missed out on a jolly good show. Bloodbag is a well-crafted show which deserves to have a sold out season.
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