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They Only Come At Night (Salford)

Rating: 3 out of 5 stars
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Not a production for the faint hearted or anyone who has an aversion to standing for an hour or so, as this scary offering by Slung Low requires your full attention and cooperation  to be successful.

The action takes place against the backdrop of Milo McKenzie’s book launch for his latest graphic novel, They Only Come at Night.  The audience are the VIP guests at the launch, enjoying the complimentary snacks and generally milling around the Studio space. There are various ‘staff’ members encouraging the ‘guests’ to provide details of their next of kin, blood type and even offering a free blood type checking service for those who are unsure what their blood type is.

After some technical difficulties, McKenzie takes to the stage to tell the audience about his inspiration for the work, when he is interrupted by Quinn who informs the guests of the real story behind the novel, suggesting that the events described are based on reality, tales of darkness and creatures which belong to the night.  

The atmosphere in the room becomes more tense as the audience begin to realise there is more to this tale than meets the eye. The tension mounts as the technical difficulties persist and the lights flicker and dip in and out and the TV screens play images of a girl outside the studio on the bridge who is in danger from the creatures from the novel that appear to be less and less mythical but the minute.

The room is split in two by a large TV screen and throughout the performance the audience moves between the two areas several times, rushed through by the ever helpful ‘staff’ encouraging everyone to make sure they can see and stick together to remain safe. The helps build fear and tension, encouraging the audience to become wary, as the evening begins to take a frightening twist at a rapid pace and it looks less and less likely that all the attendees at the launch will leave the party in the same condition in which they arrived. 

The production doesn’t require a vast amount of audience participation but uses the group dynamic well to build and maintain fear of the unknown and invitess patrons to band together as the drama unfolds.

At times though, it is difficult to hear the dialogue between Quinn and McKenzie.This is a shame, as it makes it alomst impossible to follow the back story, which is essential in building the sequence of events that occur during the book launch; however the lighting and good use of the space available works well to involve the audience in a discreet yet effective manner.

Without giving too much away, the ending feels somewhat tame; never quite living up to the expected climax however the use of modern technology and a good story told well makes They Only Come at Night a unique night to remember.

-Ruth Lovett


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