Ticketmaster Summer in Stages

Terror 2010 - Death and Resurrection


Southwark Playhouse
(2010)

The Exclusion Zone production photo

This series of four short plays about terror by leading writers might more accurately be re-labelled as horror and could well disturb more sensitive visitors.

To add to the dramas Sarah-Louise Young, dressed as a wartime nurse for a brief appearance in Reanimator, huskily sings camply gory songs that might have been leftovers from Sweeney Todd.

The cabaret element also benefits from a Goth belly dance - I kid you not - from Llio Millward.

The Exclusion Zone by Mark Ravenhill

The first play is theoretically a horror story but dissolves into something much closer to comedy as two nervous boys, illuminated only by a torch, seek sexual satisfaction in a field during an Internet date.

They each bite off more than they can chew in a play that eventually brings the lads into communion with the undead, as well as two troupes of writhing youngsters entitled Team Blood and Team Gore.

The performance ends on a high with a spooky rendition of Bow Wow Wow's Go Wild in the Country from singing zombie, Olivia Brown.

The Unimaginable by Neil Labute

Neil Labute has written the pick of the pieces, a tiny post-Gothic monologue that insistently and rather cruelly probes at the insecurities of audience members.

Scott Christie's sinister, barely-lit character is a child stealer who probes us with a catechism of questions about the safety of little ones left at home or in the park.

The presentation is impeccably judged by director Jason Lawson who sends us into the interval in need of a stiff drink

Country by April De Angelis

Country, directed by Hannah Eidinow, is like a clever short story focusing on two women miles from civilisation. Trudi Jackson's Elaine has just lost her husband Geoff and so her old friend Grace, played by Caroline Langrishe, arrives to offer support.

Grace is a specialist in mental health issues and, as such, well placed to assist with the consequences of bereavement. However, when Elaine starts wearing dead Geoff's clothes and behaving strangely, even she is at a loss and, all too soon, matters get scarily out of hand.

Reanimator by William Ewart, adapted from the short stories of H.P.Lovecraft

The final work, pacily directed by Adam Meggido, is the longest and has the feel of a number of stories inexpertly bolted together, leading to confusion.

The main thread features an everyday story of American resurrectionists in the early Edwardian period. Joseph Chance is Philips, a solid medical student being led astray by his wilder colleague West (Alex Bartram).

West has developed a serum that brings a dead rabbit back to life and is desperate to go a step further by reanimating deceased human beings.

This then develops into standard Burke and Hare meets Hammer fare but takes a strange turn that mysteriously leaves the young doctors pursued by angry zombies on the fields of Flanders during the Great War.

Reviewer: Philip Fisher