Review: Factor 9

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THE shocking true story of infected batches of Scottish donor blood in the 1980s is brought to life in this searing, gripping production by Inverness’s Dogstar Theatre.

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Haemophiliacs Rab (Stewart Porter) and Bruce (Matthew Zajac) are told that the blood with which they’ve been injected for years – the revolutionary product dubbed Factor 9 - could be contaminated, long after they could have transferred the disease to their partners or even children.

They’re persecuted, sacked from jobs, and it takes decades for them – simply dubbed “unfortunate individuals” by Westminster government – to get even measly compensation. Meanwhile, hundreds others died.

It’s superbly tense drama, with Porter and Zajac on top form playing multiple parts in firing off Hamish McDonald’s script, played on Emily James’ multimedia set in Summerhall’s aptly-titled Old Lab.

The expansive play jogs between Scotland – which was one of the only self-sustaining countries for blood stock in the 1970s – to clinical trials on prisoners in Arkansas, at one stage even suggesting Nazi doctors might be at fault in the scandal. It might be a little scattershot, but this is what makes brave, confrontational theatre.

But the sorry tales become inspirational ones, as their protests bring about the public Penrose Inquiry, due to publish this year. This production should provide a prelude to some of the vital questions that need answering.

Until 24 August