Inheritance Blues: Studio Theatre, Sheffield

Between 22nd and 30th June, Sheffield is hosting a rather special festival. The National Student Drama Festival 12 – ISDF (International Student Drama Festival) features the best of British alongside exceptional productions by young people from across the world. It’s a place where the most inspirational work from diverse, young and emerging artists is celebrated and presented, alongside workshops from leading professionals from around the world.

Inheritance Blues is the new production from Leeds University’s DugOut Theatre. Formed back in 2009, Inheritance Blues is the third show they’ll be taking to the Edinburgh Festival Fringe, and is the theatre group’s first scratch piece. The Fenwick brothers are trying to hold a quiet, respectable wake for their father. Not helping matters are familial debt, decade-old rivalries, a blizzard and a blues band that have turned up unannounced.

The aforementioned band, now in residence on a cruise ship, decide to tell the tale of a very odd night they spent in Dorset. They were booked to play at a wake where the only attendees are the the Fenwick brothers: Robert; The public-schooled eldest, who lived with their dad in a stately home; Arch; the self-made chef who lives with their mother; along with Charlie, the youngest, who is a bit of a “wide-boy”. They all meet to mark their father’s passing, waiting to open a letter which can only be read at the end of the night.

Scissorhands, Kingpin and Champagne are The Hot Air Balluses; a blues covers band who have travelled all the way from London to perform, but are not quite sure exactly who booked them. As the story begins, they merely provide musical accompaniment, as we focus on the complex relationships between the three brothers, whose lives have taken very different paths. As the night deepens amidst the falling snow, they steadily become central players in the story themselves; with their own tensions being revealed.

Inheritance Blues is a smart, darkly comedic, original debut from a very talented theatre company. The acting and comic timing is superb, as is the music and scripting. Indeed, where the material could easily become maudlin or descend into farce, the tight script keeps the play on the right track. If you’re planning on visiting the Edinburgh Fringe this year, I highly recommend seeing Inheritance Blues.

The International Student Drama Festivals continues all this week: http://www.nsdf.org.uk/schedule/