Theatre arguably has all the potential of film to be frightening; see
The Woman In Black or perhaps a walk through a live action horror maze
filled with actors dressed as zombies and other ghouls. So this quartet
of short plays that promises to "bring your fears to life" in a
"psychological and raw evening of horror" certainly raises expectations a
bar or two. There's even a disclaimer - "WARNING: Terror includes scenes of a
shocking and disturbing nature that people may find distressing. Strictly
So what does the 2012 installment of this annual horror fest bring to the tabled
setting of Soho's atmospheric downstairs space? Unfortunately, not what it
says on the tin.
Two smug 'cabaret' performers - Desmond O'Connor and Sarah-Louise Young -
totally dominate the evening and vastly overshadow the four, admittedly
weak, plays with patronising antics including tricks involving things that
are only really scary to young children (i.e. spiders and the dark).
point they even resort to singing a Sesame Street-style alphabet song about
a Ouija board. Elsewhere there's some unconvincing spider puppetry courtesy
of Flabbergast to the tune of Aphex Twin's much over-played "Come To
The plays themselves come across like rejects from Roald Dahl's Tales Of
The Unexpected. There's Robert Farquhar's No Place Like that sees
real life husband and wife Kay and Nigel Carrington's marriage jeopardised
by the increasingly strange behaviour of the latter. Representation
by Mike McShane is a tokenistic ode to vampirism and The Experiment
takes traditional ghost story telling a tad too literally by reading
straight from a script.
As if our overconfident cabaret duo hadn't had enough airtime already they
even take part as the protagonists in the final play, Alex Jones' Fifty
Shades Of Black, a crude and slightly jarring piss take of the popular novel.
A little more modesty in selling Terror 2012 would at least give
audiences a better idea of what they're paying for; it will certainly
make you laugh before it makes you scream.