French revolutions. Murderous barbers. Henry VIII’s patchy marriage record. Name it, and there can be a musical about it. Blodlina: The Viking Musical shows that not even the old gods are safe from overtures and heavenly choirs. But this is musical theatre with a difference. Casting many of its tracks to the sound of electric guitar, bass, and drums, Blodlina stands out thanks to an exceptionally talented cast and a story that breaks free from the confines of its stage.
Although conceived in thought at least before the pandemic, Blodlina arrives at an ideal time, riding the coattails of contemporary Norse popularity heralded by the likes of The Northman and Assassin’s Creed Valhalla. Embracing the musical format practically guarantees that VNM Musicals will find an audience, and they are in for a treat. A grand story of rivalry, passion and legacy, every musical number has an intensity and flair brought out by a cast diving headfirst into the story. Many songs feature heavy guitar riffs – including Mother Frigga’s, which is the standout song of the show – but many also take on a gentler note. The music is used very well to move the story forward and, crucially, never feels out of place for a viking epic. The only let down is that, so banging can the instrumentation prove, some of the voices are somewhat drowned out.
Blodlina does very well to make fight scenes feel genuinely threatening, with swords and bodies flailing out nervously close to the front row. On a technical level the production is outstanding, with glistening costumes and lighting used to dictate the feeling to riveting effect (scenes of fallen warriors passing into Valhalla have a real poignancy). It is all the more impressive given this is a condensed version of a much larger show, making do with less staging and a noticeably smaller cast. Rarely does this hold Blodlina back however, and if anything it makes the performers’ versatility all the more impressive. It also never feels like much information is missing from the show, asides perhaps more information about the romantic feelings between Queen Magnhild and the farmer Einar.
A rousing, thumping, and bloodthirsty musical experience, Blodlina is a surprise hit of the festival. A talented cast gel perfectly with a strong script to produce a musical that, destiny permitting, could be seen on a far larger scale in years to come.