Tag Archives: Eddie Mann

The Hypnotist

★★½

Pleasance Theatre

The Hypnotist

The Hypnotist

Pleasance Theatre

Reviewed – 12th October 2019

★★½

 

“there are so many loose ends to tie up at the end, that the resulting denouement seems a bit laboured”

 

Ecuador is the location for G.M.C (Gerard) Lewis’ contribution to the 2019 London Horror Festival at the Pleasance Theatre in Islington, and The Hypnotist adds a nicely warm and tropical feel to counter wet and chilly October days. Produced by the Monkey’s Fist Theatre Company, this tale of an innocent young ecotourist meeting ancient evil in the jungle has the elements to make a satisfying contribution to a Fright Fest. Does it succeed in chilling the blood of the audience as the story proceeds? Not entirely, and it has nothing to do with temperature. The chief problem is that The Hypnotist is overladen with detail and too many story lines. The plot struggles to integrate Laura the herpetologist, Garrett the aforesaid ecotourist, Sandy the anthropologist and the late introduction of an Irishman named Daragh, plus lots of references to Quito, the capital of Ecuador, and mysterious disappearances of rich inhabitants there. Add to that Laura’s snakes, and an overload of information about ancient peoples whose rituals and pharmacopeia have been appropriated by Sandy for her anthropological studies. But there is never a satisfying explanation for why the practice of western hypnotism is combined with non-western shamanistic rituals. Otherwise, this wealth of material does come together during the course of the play, but there are so many loose ends to tie up at the end, that the resulting denouement seems a bit laboured.

The actors do their best with The Hypnotist, and they are an engaging group of performers. Lauren Barnes as Laura is an intense and detail driven scientist, and the naive and far too trusting Garrett, played by Nic James, is drawn to her and her snake charming ways right from the start. Sandy, played by Maria Pearson, commands the stage when she is on it. Colin Hubbard as Daragh has the least to do in this four hander, but he handles the role of the “heavy” with just the right amount of creepy can-do.

The biggest weakness of this production is the staging. Despite an elaborate set with lots of tropical plants, tents and the paraphernalia of camping, The Hypnotist is a drama about states of mind, and all this naturalistic detail just gets in the way. Some of the essential details mentioned in the script—such as the continual repetition of a hammock “as your safe place”—become distractions as you search about the set for a hammock without seeing one. The snakes are disappointingly small when finally revealed. Andrea Hazel Lewis, who directs, has to guide her actors through this mass of detail, where perhaps a more uncluttered set (and script), and more reliance on lighting and sound effects could have set the scene just as effectively. Eddie Mann’s music and sound effects are certainly up to the task.

Fans of horror movies like The Serpent and the Rainbow will probably appreciate this tale of ancient wisdom being misappropriated for modern purposes. However, audiences who prefer more uncluttered trips to landscapes of terror may find The Hypnotist a less satisfying excursion.

 

Reviewed by Dominica Plummer

 


The Hypnotist

Pleasance Theatre as part of London Horror Festival 2019

 

Previously reviewed at this venue:
Night Of The Living Dead Live | ★★★ | April 2019
Don’t Look Away | ★★★½ | May 2019
Regen | ★★★ | May 2019
The Millennials | ★★½ | May 2019
Kill Climate Deniers | ★★★★ | June 2019
It’ll Be Alt-Right On The Night | ★★★★ | September 2019
Midlife Cowboy | ★★★ | September 2019
The Accident Did Not Take Place | ★★ | October 2019
The Fetch Wilson | ★★★★ | October 2019

 

Click here to see our most recent reviews

 

A Midsummer Night’s Dream – 4 Stars

Inch

A Midsummer Night’s Dream

The George Inn, Southwark

Reviewed – 8th September 2018

★★★★

“there was a palpable sense that this was a Shakespearean comedy as it was written; beer in hand, actors bellowing over a rowdy audience and an overall good time”

 

The Three Inch Fools present their version of A Midsummer Night’s Dream at The George Inn in Borough as a fusion of high-energy multi-role Shakespearian comedy with folk song and dance folded between, and into, the scenes. The end result is an enjoyable, energetic version of the classic cutting through the noisy beer garden and giving the family audience a fun and easy evening.

Directed by Stephen Hyde, this show is pure performance; our five actors cycle through the characters, each positively vibrating with enthusiasm. Claire Parry is a standout but all five were able musicians, great singers and obviously seriously physically fit to keep each scene louder, quicker and with more steam than the last!

Hyde is also the composer and, along with Eddie Mann as the Associate Musical Director, he gives the show its brilliant, if predictable, music with a series of folk-style songs, performed by the actors. These songs will catch any audience member momentarily relaxing with a hit of creativity to leave each moment filled with a can-you-hear-me-at-the-back attitude.

Unfortunately, high-energy does not a great show make. For families and in the fantastic George Inn, the show powered through as true pub theatre and was tight, well-rehearsed but perhaps not as thoughtful as it might have been. The comedy was generous and accessible although repetitive, and the multi-role work was clever and fun (a piece of costume for each character) but lacked the commitment in voice and physicality to not appear as a choice borne of necessity rather than creativity.

What this production lacked in substance, it made up for in comic commitment as the Fools battled and overcame a loud and boisterous beer garden. In many ways, the George Inn was a sixth actor, one that couldn’t keep quiet! There has been a public house on the site since Chaucer’s times (The Canterbury Tales begins there) and with the original Rose and Globe only metres away there is little doubt that the man himself once sat in the courtyard and was rained on a little as we were (bring an anorak!). This context and the cobbled streets meant that, for a touring production, the show felt specific to the George Inn and the performance was best enjoyed as a whole, rather than isolating only the on-stage action. The evening was impossible not to enjoy and at times there was a palpable sense that this was a Shakespearean comedy as it was written; beer in hand, actors bellowing over a rowdy audience and an overall good time.

 

Reviewed by William Nash

Photography courtesy Three Inch Fools

 

The Three Inch Fools

A Midsummer Night’s Dream

The George Inn, Southwark until 16th September

 

Related
Other versions of A Midsummer Night’s Dream
★★ | Theatro Technis | April 2018
★★★★ | Watermill Theatre | May 2018
★★★½ | Wilton’s Music Hall | June 2018

 

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