Sunday, 16 March 2014

Theatre of Blood | On Location in… Putney

If you have seen Theatre of Blood as many times as I, then you'll know that March 15 was the day that Vincent Price's vengeful Edward Lionheart began his campaign of terror, bumping off all those nasty critics who lambasted his performances of the work of the immortal bard. Being a huge fan of the cult 1973 black comedy, and it being a lovely spring day, I decided to visit a couple of the London locations that appear in the film. So, heading west, I started my tour by visiting Putney SW15 to seek out the location of Lionheart's hideout, the Burbage Theatre, which, in reality, was the Putney Hippodrome.

Built in 1906 as a vaudeville music hall, the Hippodrome on Felsham Road was converted into a cinema in the 1930s and closed around 1958. Director Douglas Hickox first used the site for his 1972 film Sitting Target, starring Oliver Reed and Ian McShane. For Theatre of Blood, Hickox bought 500 seats for paltry £250 and built a new proscenium. It was here that Lionheart would put on his grisly versions of Shakespeare's tragedies and restage the 1970 Critics Circle Award before torching the venue for his final performance as Lear.

The Hippodrome was demolished in 1975 and today houses a council estate and one of London's new cycle stations.

This picture of Price's Edward Lionheart as Shylock was taken across the road from the Hippodrome, on the corner of Felsham Road and Walkers Place. This was also where Edwinda can be seen luring Hector Snipe to the theatre. Luxury flats now occupy the site.

The first critic to meet their doom was Michael Hodern's George Maxwell who is called to an old warehouse on the Ides of March where he meets Edward and Edwina (disguised as policemen) and is subsquently hacked to pieces just as Julius Caesar was cut down in Shakespeare's play. 

The warehouse is long gone, replaced by another ugly council estate, but was situated at the back of the Hippodrome on Weimar Street. Look carefully and you can see the old iron gates behind Maxwell's car are still in use today.

In this scene, Inspector Boot (Milo O’Shea) briefs his men outside the house of Meredith Merridew, who is served up his last meal, poodle pie, as part of a fake TV show, This Is Your Dish. The house is situated on the corner of Lacy Road and Charlwood Road, just a stone's throw from Felsham Road. 

In this comic scene, the police give chase when they think they see Lionheart driving past in a taxi. Below, is what Charlwood Road looks like today.

Now that I have ticked off the Putney locations, and have already done Kensal Green Cemetary, I can't wait for another lovely spring day to track down some more of the film's original locations. If you have been to any and want to share your thoughts and photos, then please do get in contact.



Anonymous said...

awesome that you got to visit this! you lucky dog!

Mike Grant said...

Brilliant Stuff M8....I have just started a Facebook group dedicated to this classic film and have given your blog a link on the page