Reviewed – 19th October 2019
“while these stories will have you on the edge of your seats, there are also moments of laugh out loud humour to lighten the load of existential dread”
Anthology is a dazzling collection of three short plays written and directed by Chris Lincé, and performed by Carrie Thompson. Working together as part of Hermetic Arts, this extraordinarily talented duo shine darkly in the 2019 London Horror Festival. Special Sounds (inspired by An Individual Note by Daphne Oram); Wholesale and The Empty Clock, are modern, even slightly futuristic, horror stories. Each play highlights the heightened anxieties of our modern technological age in ways that will remind audiences of Edgar Allan Poe—if Poe had written on steroids while navigating the terrors of the gig economy, corporate marketing, and internet dating. But while these stories will have you on the edge of your seats, there are also moments of laugh out loud humour to lighten the load of existential dread.
Carrie Thompson, as solo performer, and ably assisted by the split second timing of sound and lighting effects, holds the attention effortlessly. And she does this in Special Sounds without uttering a single word. It’s a nice reworking of the trapped-in-a-room-with-a-monster trope, except that in this case, the monster is a dictation machine that has captured an audio typist. That’s a situation a lot of us can relate to. The second play, Wholesale, shows off Thompson’s ease with American accents as she ups the energy in this tale of a motivational speaker working for a modern corporation. Enlisting the aid of the audience for this one, Thompson appears to be selling the virtues of a new concept of marketing based on implanted memories. The idea of some corporation tampering with a cherished memory as a marketing gimmick is a thought horrifying enough to cause any number of sleepless nights. Thompson and Lincé save the best for last, however. The Empty Clock is the most Poe like in Anthology—but updated for the twenty-first century. A modern young woman meets a man online, and what happens next as the woman’s grandmother clock gets involved in their relationship is truly the stuff of nightmares. Echoes of The Fall Of The House Of Usher and The Oblong Box resonate throughout The Empty Clock. Lincé’s writing is so vivid that it is enough for Thompson to simply sit and narrate this terrifying tale.
Anthology plays for only one night at the 2019 London Horror Festival unfortunately, but set a google alert for this company—you’ll want to see whatever Lincé and Thompson dream up next. So what if their material gives you nightmares. These are bad dreams that make you think.
Reviewed by Dominica Plummer
Pleasance Theatre as part of London Horror Festival
Previously reviewed at this venue: