TERROR 2012 To 3 November.



Soho Theatre (Downstairs) 21 Dean Street W1D 3NE To 3 November 2012.
Tue-Sun 7.30pm.
Runs 1hr 15min No interval.

TICKETS: 020 7478 0100.
Review: Martin Franks 23rOctober.

Spooky potential sometimes reached.
If you like your fear served up with lots of laughs, good fun and just the occasional frisson then this collection of short plays, with cabaret glue, will appeal.

This is the 9th year that Sticking Place have created what they call a ‘Festival of Horror Theatre and Grand Guignol’ for the Spooky Season – for 2 of them, at the Soho Theatre.

And it is quite an achievement to get four short plays by the likes of Robert Farquhar, Mark Ravenhill, Mike McShane and Alex Jones on the same bill. The Experiment’ by Mark Ravenhill is the highlight for me – a contradictory, sprawling monologue, (performed thrillingly by William Donaldson) about the use of children for experiments to find a cure for an adult’s debilitating disease. Who this adult is – the narrator’s neighbour, the narrator, his lover, his wife, his partner, someone on the news – is never quite clear, adding to the unsettling edge of the whole piece.

Desmond O’Connor is an energised, apparently incompetent, dominatrix in Fifty Shades of Black and he also holds the whole evening together powerfully as the male MC. Victoria Lennox gives a strongly demonic performance in Representation. But several of the other actors ‘perform’ a bit too much in this intimate space.

It must be very difficult to put on ‘Horror’ these days – every member of the audience has such a different threshold and the last thing you need is genuine upset. But in the end I didn’t feel frightened. It is stimulating to be allowed to have real pitch dark and some audience members clearly felt surprised enough to shriek at what then happened.

Even the fabulous puppets created and manipulated by Flabbergast didn’t unsettle me. The contemporary technique of puppeteer in view which works so well in full light is just confusing in shaft lighting meant to get under the phobic skin. Where are the half-lit faces, the sudden explosive sounds, the genuinely grotesque, the surprise?

The theatre can do Spook really well. Sadly, the choice of techniques used here mostly doesn’t do it – for me.

No Place Like Home
by Robert Farquhar.
Jenny: Kay Carrington.
Peter: Nigel Carrington.

Director: Matt Peover.

by Mike McShane.
Ryan Fontaine: Shaun Stone.
Barista: Ralph Cullum.
Bella Talmadge: Victoria Lennox.

Director: Hannah Eidenow.

The Experiment
by Mark Ravenhill.
Man: William Donaldson/Oliver Senton.

Director: Matt Peover.

Fifty Shades of Black
by Alex Jones.
Mark: Desmond O’Connor.
Kate: Sarah-Louise Young.
Director: Matt Peover.

Cabaret Links: Desmond O’Connor, Sarah-Louise Young.

Puppetry: Flabbergast.

Artistic Director: Adam Meggido.
Designer: Sam Wyer.
Sound: Desmond O’Connor.
Special Effects: Florence Carter.

Produced by The Sticking Place in association with Soho Theatre.

2012-10-24 23:44:21

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