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The London Horror Festival at the Old Red Lion: The Wicker Hamper

Published by: Carolin Kopplin on 23rd Oct 2016 | View all blogs by Carolin Kopplin

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“I’ll be right back” is sure to get you killed

The UK's original and largest festival of horror at the Old Red Lion Theatre is still going strong. A celebration of the ghoulish, the thrilling and the macabre performing arts, the London Horror Festival is exactly what you are looking for if you love Halloween.

The Wicker Hamper by Stack 10 Theatre is a spoof on all the horror classics you can possibly imagine including Psycho, The Exorcist, Nightmare on Elm Street, Frankenstein, The Wicker Man - obviously - and quite a few more, all in the short performance time of one hour.

As the lights fade, Nigel (Conor Boru) and Sally (Octavia Gilmore) make the pre-show announcements that turn into an absurd discussion about the use of cigarettes and smartphones during the performance. The interval announcement - although there is none - is equally hilarious.

The actual show begins with a young woman who is trying to escape from an evil presence wielding a bloody sword, yet, like in a nightmare, she is stuck in one place and it is almost too easy for the demon to catch up with her. - Welcome to the island of Winterisle!

The year is 1974 and Marcie (Hannah Grace May) checks into the Bates Hotel & Golf Club for the weekend before starting her new job with Lady Winterisle (Bethany Greenwood), who is in desperate need of an experienced fundraiser to save her theatre. The hotel is run by Norman (Donncha Kearney), a young man with a manic grin who is living with his mother. When Norman disappears after Marcie has witnessed a series of strange noises, she investigates together with Sgt Howard (Elliot Thomas), a police officer from the mainland - and still a virgin. As they explore a pagan burial ground, they encounter Igore (Sophie Hughes), a deformed creature and Lady Winterisle's henchman. Who will end up in the Wicker Hamper?

Ed Hartland's script is a bit uneven and lacks coherence but the references to everybody's favourite nightmares work well and the song "I'll be right back" is sure to get your killed is ingenious. The cast was very good throughout, especially Donncha Kearney, who gave a truly creepy performance as Norman, and a more comical one as the gravedigger "with a stupid accent" and of course Hannah Grace May as our heroine Marcie, who remained cool except for one blood curdling scream which has to be part of a horror show. The stage design consisted of only a few props and set pieces that were employed very effectively by the cast.

However, Stuart Vincent and Ed Hartland's production still seemed more like a work in progress than a finished production. Perhaps there was not enough rehearsal time - which is often the case in unfunded productions - but this is promising work, which deserves to be more widely seen.

There was quite a bit of audience participation, which I thought, could have been handled a bit more sensitively. Not everybody in the audience feels the urge to become part of the action.

By Carolin Kopplin 

Until 23rd October at the Old Red Lion Theatre.

More information about the London Horror Festival: www.oldredliontheatre.co.uk/

More information about Stack 10 Theatre:

http://stack10theatre.wixsite.com/stack10

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