Theatre as a form of vegan activism: Blood On Your Hands play review

A theatre company with purpose, Patch Plays, recognised that there are many forms of vegan activism and chose the stage as a platform to make a difference. Their focus is on animal ethics and the environment and they state that “attending a night at the theatre might not seem like you’re saving the world, but Patch Plays hopes to platform important stories that can start a conversation and inspire a little positive change.”

Their latest play, Blood On Your Hands, written by Grace Joy Howarth, was recently performed at the Southwark Playhouse. V-Land UK had the privilege of also attending a shorter version of the show which they performed last year. At that time, it only featured the two main characters so it was rewarding to see how it has been developed with an extended cast and added depth.

Blood On Your Hands play promotional graphic

Patch Plays

It is the story of the forgotten victims of the meat industry and examines the human impact on some of those who work in slaughterhouses. Centred around a Ukrainian refugee and ex-veterinarian, Kostyantyn, it brings to life the harsh realities of working in such an environment. It also incorporates an animal rights angle so the audience is shown what it means to advocate for the non-human victims who end up at these abattoirs.

The other protagonist is Dan, a young man trapped by poverty and lack of opportunity. Despite this, he is happy-go-lucky in nature. The humorous moments, encountered as they build their friendship, invoke a sense of unease given the context of their work setting.

We see Kostyantyn and Dan navigating the day-to-day challenges life has thrown at them. With the support of flashbacks we learn more about their backstories and their extended relationships. Kostyantyn’s wife and children are back home in war-torn Ukraine, keen to join him for a better life. Dan struggles with his ex-girlfriend who has become an animal rights activist after learning about his experiences at the slaughterhouse.

Adding further to the unease is a scene representing the kill floor. The horror is presented using plastic sheets, knives, blood, and body parts, to great effect. It is one of several moments in the play that really hits.

Scene from Blood On Your Hands play with a slaughterhouse worker and a women holding a placard

Patch Plays

Overall, it is an emotional, thought-provoking ride. Whether vegan or not, you will leave the show with new perspectives and something with substance to discuss. Definitely one to see if the opportunity presents itself again. 

Follow Patch Plays on Instagram or Facebook to ensure you don’t miss out on future productions. Their previous plays include, Meat Cute, about a woman on a mission to veganise her Tinder dates that was performed at the Edinburgh Fringe 2023. Theatre as a form of vegan activism was in full display during this particular play. 

They are without doubt a theatre company to keep an eye on and we look forward to whatever comes next.

For more inspiration on different forms of vegan activism you might be interested in our articles detailing unique activism approaches or a listing of artists using music as a form of activism.

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