Reviewed – 2nd October 2020
“It would make a brilliant beginning to a socially-distanced Halloween event”
Visitors is a short audio-immersive experience created for two people to share, each with a smartphone and headphones. There is an app to download and an access code to type in and the audio has been created to experience at home.
The tech all ran smoothly other than a slight hiccup at the very beginning: there is a clock countdown on the phone screen, which creates a certain amount of anticipation, and it was therefore very anti-climactic when nothing happened immediately on 0. There were a few minutes of dead time before the experience actually kicked in, which definitely took away from it somewhat. Given that this was a press preview however, there is every chance that this technical glitch will have been addressed before the experience goes fully live. Once it did actually begin however, it very quickly became completely absorbing, partly owing to the instruction to turn off all the lights. The sound quality was extraordinary and extremely unsettling. My son and I each had physical responses to it at certain moments, with the hair on my arms quite literally standing on end at one point; excellent vocal work from the two actors, Sonya Seva and Greer Dale-Ffoulkes, also perfectly conjured up an eerie, ethereal virtual space.
The narrative is slight, and the experience would benefit from being a little longer, but if you’re someone who enjoys a bit of titillating fear, Visitors most certainly fulfils the brief; it’s rather like a super high-tech 2020 version of a ghost train. It would make a brilliant beginning to a socially-distanced Halloween event, and is clearly an ingenious way to deal with the current COVID restrictions.
It’s certainly no substitute for live performance, but there’s clearly a future in this 21st century method of storytelling. It will be interesting to see (hear?) other, perhaps more complex, types of tale told in this way.
Reviewed by Rebecca Crankshaw
Previously Darkfield review:
Reviewed – 31st January 2019
“there is no faulting the sharp, incisive quality of the writing and the performances, there is a sense that they are all working a little too hard”
‘Kill the Beast’ have built up a reputation for combining their dark comedy with slick, slapstick physical theatre, creating spoofs that have targeted the likes of 80s sci-fi, detective stories and werewolf mysteries, among others. Now they turn their hand to the horror genre with “Director’s Cut” at the VAULT Festival. Farcical, fast-paced and frightening – even sometimes frighteningly funny – they transport us to the world of a 1970s wobbly film set. The more than slightly stressed director has just one more day to reshoot the final scene following the untimely death of his lead actress; whose ghost, needless to say, seeks to take her revenge from beyond the grave.
So, what can possibly go wrong? Even without the supernatural interference, there is melodrama enough to ensure the film never gets made. It takes real professionalism to portray amateurism well, and these five performers (Clem Garritty, Natasha Hodgson, Zoe Roberts, David Cumming and Oliver Jones) get it spot on with their exaggerated depictions of the prima donnas and the divas who have learned their trade from the ‘Art of Coarse Acting’. Even the props behave badly.
But despite the fast current of the action that sweep the gags along, it is dragged down slightly by the sheer haul of its influences. It’s a real mix of ‘The Goons’, ‘Inside No. 9’, ‘The Play That Goes Wrong’, ‘Noises Off’ and even a bit of ‘Acorn Antiques’. So much so that the horror element feels a bit shoe-horned in. Most of the humour lies in the human story, and while there is no faulting the sharp, incisive quality of the writing and the performances, there is a sense that they are all working a little too hard; as though over-eager to meet their target of punchlines.
“Director’s Cut”, though, is essentially an hour of very silly comedy, full of delightful in-jokes and recognisable characters. In jest there is truth. Even at its most ludicrous and over-the-top, much of the comedy derives from knowing how accurate the observations are. Strip these characters of their technicolour overkill and the anarchic humour would have more room to breathe.
Reviewed by Jonathan Evans
Photography courtesy Kill the Beast
Part of VAULT Festival 2019