Tumulus by Christopher Adams. Soho Theatre Upstairs, 21 Dean Street, London W1. 2**. William Russell

By Christopher Adams.
The Soho Theatre Upstairs, 21 Dean Street, London W1S 3NE to 4 May 2019.
Tues-Sat 7pm. Mat Sat 3pm.
Runs 40 mins No interval.
TICKETS: 020 7478 0100.
Review: William Russell 18 April.

A waste of talent all round

The script is literate, the three players talented but this thriller does not thrill and fails to surprise – the denouement can be spotted the minute the killer of young men addicted to chemsex orgies appears. It is a clever enough parody of a Sam Spade thriller by Christopher Adams with some neat one liners and is full of decadent seniors and lost juniors and objects of significance that are missing found where they ought not to be. Anthony, a reformed taker of drugs, has had a fling – or possibly more – with George who is found dead on the Tumulus, a mound alleged to be Boadicea’s grave, on Hampstead Heath near Kenwood House, and a most peculiar place for a body to end up. Anthony thinks something is not right. At a party held by an old lover he meets assorted takers of the stuff, things start to add up, and he goes in search of the killer pursued by George’s ghost demanding he find a lost locket – naturally he finds who done it placing himself in peril in the doing.
The piece sold out at the Vault Festival last year and now gets this transfer to the Upstairs space at the Soho Theatre. It may be of interest to those who indulge, it certainly informs those who do not about the chemsex scene. There are better ways, however, of passing the time – short though it is – than this.
An impressive Ciaran Owens plays Anthony who narrates the tale. The other characters are played with verve by Ian Hallard (Male, Forties) and Harry Lister Smith (Male Early Twenties). Both wearing fetching red shorts adopt different voices, some of which are distorted, as they change character and do some peculiar things with a couple of filing cabinets. No complaints about the quality of the cast then, although why in this tiny space the cast needed face mikes is anybody’s guess. It may have something to do with the need to distort the voices although that does make some of the characters sound like weedy wimps.
The Outside Edge Theatre Company, a charity focused on substance abuse and addiction, holds weekly drama workshops in Fulham for people in recovery, and all they ask is that participants have not used on the day of the workshop. There are also post show discussions held in association with the sexual health clinic in Dean Street. All that is admirable. Good intentions, however, do not good theatre make.

Anthony: Ciaran Owens.
Male Forties: Ian Hallard.
Male Early Twenties: Harry Lister Smith.

Director: Matt Steinberg.
Designer: Alison Neighbour.
Lighting Designer: Christopher Nairne.
Sound Designer: Nick Manning.
Movement Director: Natasha Harrison.
Production Photographer: Darren Bell.

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