The Shadow Over Innsmouth
The Old Red Lion Theatre
Reviewed – 18th October 2017
“Lovecraft’s much loved, sombre and dramatic story is delivered with sinister ease”
Currently hosting the London Horror Festival, The Old Red Lion Theatre is the perfect venue for goosebumps inducing events. The organisers have made sure that one is welcomed by a ghoulish array of spooky decorations to set exactly the right chilling tone.
The Shadow Over Innsmouth is a tale of insanity, a topic that appears in author H P Lovecraft’s works in many forms. The narrator of the story is a young man who went on a journey to the coast around New England to carry out research into his family history. He encountered unimaginable horrors. The town he passed through to avoid expensive train fares seemed to be inhabited by creatures that are not fully human. Nonetheless, he mysteriously survived the adventure.
Adaptated by Jade Allen and Claire Matthews, Hidden Basement Productions’ take on H P Lovecraft’s classic horror novel places the narrator at his house. He seems to be recalling the events of the story while attempting to go about normal activities like, to his terror, getting married.
The play is an absolute gem. Philip North (narrator) and Claire Matthews (everybody else) are a brilliant, incredibly talented duo that delivered Lovecraft’s much loved, sombre and dramatic story with sinister ease. There were many moments when the skilful sound work (Paul Thompson), imaginative props (Harriet Field, Verity Treadwell, Kayla Holroyd) and outstanding acting made the audience jump out of their seats in fear.
If Philip North was portraying the victim of the dreadful experiences, Claire Matthews was the cause of them. Her rough low voice and her terrifying ability to change in an instant from human to monstrous characters added to the feeling of unease and disbelief that are crucial to Lovecraft’s work. The set did not change from the beginning till the end, although the storyline was constantly moving in time and place. The props – candles, a gramophone, an old-fashioned coat hanger which occasionally turned into a man and the nightmarish puppets were all perfectly chosen to reflect this dark storytelling.
Fans of H P Lovecraft must have been over the moon to see such a soulful adaptation of his short story. There is nothing more delightful than the sense of trepidation one has when leaving the theatre after a good horror story. An excellent darkly comic show. What else will the London Horror Festival bring?
Reviewed by Aleksandra Myslek
THE SHADOW OVER INNSMOUTH
was part of the London Horror Festival
at The Old Red Lion Theatre