Book: Stewart Pringle & Tom Richards
Music and lyrics: Jeffrey Mayhew
Director: Tom Richards
Reviewer: Elizabeth Vile
The Public Reviews Rating:
Presented as part of the London Horror Festival The Horror! The Horror! is an immersive promenade piece that uses the beautiful building that is Wilton’s Music Hall in an original and intriguing way. Set in Victorian London at the opening of a new show of a company under new management a group of performers are ready to entertain and amuse their first audience.
The audience is swept up in the pre-show banter in the bar between characters. This banter clearly sets out expectations and then led confidently by Tom Richards as Alfred Brownlow the cast warm up the audience with a surprisingly catchy song before we were led off to watch our first act. The show was structured around small music hall style acts that involved comedy, music and a little bit of magic. All actors involved were committed to their characters and confidently interacted with the audience when required. The horror aspect of the piece was handled effectively and gradually became more and more intense and disturbing as the night progressed, the stories told by the performers, although slightly contrived at times, were creepy and edgy with nice twists throughout.
Although this is definitely an ensemble piece special mention must go to Ben Goffe as Robin Baker for his expert guidance of the audience as well as his excellent audience interaction and to Jonathan Kemp as Jack Babbage for his subtle and effective decline from prospering stand up comic to the twisted alcoholic that his character became. This production slowly racked up the tension throughout and the finale was definitely worth waiting for, grotesque, disturbing and musical.
As audience members who did not know what would happen next or where we were to be taken we were looked after very well, with ample help with stairs and time to settle before the scenes began properly. Being set in the backstage of a theatre really added to the intimacy and atmosphere of the piece. The lighting was particularly effective and although the audience was so close to the action, even during the magic tricks there was still an element of mystery present. It was very cosy at points and the transitions between rooms was sometimes very slow, there was also a lot of standing around which some members of the audience may well find uncomfortable.
This production is well crafted and put together and although some of the stories were slightly contrived to fit the overarching plot overall it captured the audience’s imagination and kept them entertained and disturbed throughout.
This show does involve some walking, stairs and standing for periods of time and is not suitable for children due to some of its content and language.