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Gothic Season at the Hope Theatre: The Worst Was This

Published by: Carolin Kopplin on 13th Nov 2016 | View all blogs by Carolin Kopplin


... if he thrive and I be cast away,
The worst was this: my love was my decay.

The Gothic Season at the Hope Theatre continues with the latest production by Wild Goose Chase in association with the critically acclaimed New Room Theatre. Matte O'Brien's play, a mix of modern Grand Guignol and Elizabethan mystery story, takes place in a post-apocalyptic Britain.

After a great war has destroyed all animal life on Earth, meat has become very scarce. However, in a pub named "The Wayward Sisters", there seems to be a constant supply of fresh meat. Pub landlady Agatha (Sarah Barron) and her two sisters Rue (Lauren Hurwood) and Odette (Beth Kovarik) run a successful black market business with the help of Bob aka "Bones" (Mark Jeary), who carries out the bloody deeds. When Will (Ben Clifford), a young actor and playwright, enters the sisters' pub to meet with disfigured poet Chris (Robin Hellier), who was presumed dead, a Shakespearean love triangle turns into tragedy. 

The show begins with cheerful songs by Lesley Gore and the Partridge Family but the joyful tunes are soon distorted and a breathless man enters with a dagger and a bloodied script. Cut to the pub "The Wayward Sisters" where Bob drags in some more fresh meat to be turned into a tasty stew. When Will enters the pub, the sisters make a mess trying to explain what is in the bag but Will is not really interested, he is looking for Chris to teach him how to write plays.

Director and playwright Matte O'Brien transports Elizabethans Christopher Marlowe and William Shakespeare into the future with the premise that Marlowe survived the attack on his life, though badly disfigured, and Shakespeare took advantage of Marlowe's preference to be assumed dead, claiming Marlowe's plays as his own. Combined with a Grand Guignol type horror story that involves gory murder, cannibalism, and resurrection of corpses, this production is a lot of nonsensical fun, written in blank verse and prose that is skilfully delivered by the cast.

Sarah Barron is especially good as Agatha, the eldest of the three sisters who considers Lady Macbeth a softie and follows in Dr Frankenstein's footsteps to pass the time. Beth Kovarik is enticing as Marlowe's muse, desiring so much more from the poet who is unable to reciprocate her feelings. Robin Hellier gives a fine performance as the tortured Marlowe.

Vari Gardner's costumes are a successful mix of modern garments, such as t-shirts, and period costumes. The fight scenes, choreographed by Robin Hellier, are very exciting and somewhat frightening in such an intimate space.

An absurd horror story with a lot of funny moments. 

By Carolin Kopplin

Until 26th November 2016

The Hope Theatre

Running time: 80 minutes without interval






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