The House on Haunted Hill
Leicester Square Theatre
Reviewed – 2nd November 2017
“a brilliantly bizarre production with constant laughs throughout”
How do I even begin to go about briefly describing House on Haunted Hill? This production was based on the 1959 film starring Vincent Price where an eccentric millionaire offers four strangers $10,000 if they last the night at his Haunted House Party. The Lampoons have taken this and put their own delightful twists in by incorporating their own material. This is a brilliantly bizarre production with constant laughs throughout.
From the very moment of walking into the venue the audience were included in the action. Members of the cast in those protective suits that people at crime scenes wear, hand out programmes and ping pong balls. We’re told that we’ll “need those later” and we’ll “know what to do.” It creates an odd humorous yet mysterious atmosphere that remains for the entire performance.
Part of the production’s greatness lies in the strength of the cast. Josh Harvey and Adam Elliott are particularly strong as Lance Schroeder and Dr David Trent respectively. Elliot’s Southern drawl is enough on its own to raise a laugh. The whole cast are magnificent as Vincent Price. It’s lovely to witness a group of people having so much fun onstage together. There was a moment where they all broke character and it felt like we were part of the joke with them.
The set was low budget but they played on that and it actually managed to add even more to the comedy of the piece. Some of the stranger moments of this production are extraordinary examples of surreal humour in action. One of the highlights is the Balaklava Ballet Band which is probably one of the oddest couple of minutes you will ever spend in a theatre. The use of songs (from an original score by Mote Keatinge) scattered throughout the piece added a whole new layer of comedic value.
A couple of jokes fell a little flat, especially those concerning Lance Schroeder’s attempts at wooing. Despite this, House on Haunted Hill is an hilarious homage to classic horror films and Vincent Price. The audience started laughing as soon as they walked in and didn’t stop until they left.
Reviewed by Katie Douglas
Photography by Headshot Toby
THE HOUSE ON HAUNTED HILL
is at Leicester Square Theatre until 11th November
Torn Apart (Dissolution)
The Hope Theatre
Reviewed – 6th July 2017
“The women in particular in these stories are incredible, and are acted so emotively it is hard not to be enthralled”
Where do our most intimate moments and conversations take place? The Bedroom. It is only fitting then that from the moment you walk into the theatre, we see the beginnings of one of three troubled love stories already taking place. Torn Apart (Dissolution) interweaves these three very different stories: A soldier and a student (Nastazja Somers & Charlie Allen), a young chef and an Australian on a working visa (Elliot Rogers & Christina Baston) and a mother and her lesbian partner (Sarah Hasting & Monty Leigh).
Despite these three very different stories sharing the same intimate space and a very well placed deck of cards, the themes and issues could not be more different. Although inevitably, as in love, there is always some crossover, and the moments when the actors from different stories share the same lines are particularly beautiful. It would not be right to say “there is something for everyone”, more there is something we can all relate to in the stories told, and all three strike a chord.
As well as the very immediate issues of love, separation, distance and family, the play beautifully addresses the aspects of love and relationships we inherit from our own family environments as well as externally by society and how we are conditioned to expect these intimate situations to play out. The cage that surrounds the bedroom perfectly mirrors these constraints and the actors actively try to break free from them, but ultimately these constraints we have created for ourselves can be too hard to break.
Finally, when leaving, the word dissolution from the title is particularly poignant as we see the opening couple lying on the same bed, worlds apart from where we started. Echoing the resolution we so often fail to find when it comes to matters of the heart.
The women in particular in these stories are incredible, and are acted so emotively it is hard not to be enthralled. Writer and director Bj McNeill has created a wonderful piece dealing with so many issues, putting women at the forefront and really allowing them to shine within their respective roles.
Reviewed by Thomas Perks
Photography by Scott Rylander
TORN APART (DISSOLUTION)
is at The Hope Theatre until 22nd July