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Something Awful

Something Awful


VAULT Festival 2020

Something Awful

Something Awful

Cavern – The Vaults

Reviewed – 29th January 2020



“a fantastic production which is sure to have even the most hardened horror fan on the edge of their seat”


In 2014, two twelve-year-old girls from Wisconsin stabbed their supposed best friend 19 times in an attempt to appease the fictional internet creation Slender Man. Fortunately, the victim survived, having crawled to a road where she was found, and the two girls were subsequently found not guilty by mental disease or defect. Something Awful, the new play from award-winning Flux Theatre written by Tatty Hennessy and directed by Lucy Jane Atkinson, takes inspiration from this gruesome tale and the horrors that lurk on online forums.

Soph (Natalya Martin) and her best friend Jel (Monica Anne) love reading scary stories on websites such as Creepypasta, that is, until new girl Ellie (Melissa Parker) turns up with her own horror story of a mysterious figure with an axe in the nearby forest. The line between fiction and reality slowly begins to blur with disastrous consequences.

Something Awful takes a fascinating premise and addresses issues becoming increasingly relevant in our society. The ease in which children can access grotesque and inappropriate content on the internet is an obvious concern for parents, and the real-life case which the play is based on demonstrates the possible terrifying results of such exposure. A scene in which Soph gets her first period at a sleepover reminds us just how young these characters are despite the media they are consuming, and the quick installation of a VPN on their mobile devices shows just how quickly young people can get around the barriers in place for their protection.

All three women are fantastically convincing in their roles, and have excellent chemistry. The play’s pacing is good for the most part though the morbid conclusion to the tale is perhaps a bit rushed. Some more build up to the girls’ decision would be appreciated though this does also make the ending all the more dramatic in its suddenness.

The set (Bethany Pratt) is very simple. Two tables are moved around the stage for different scenes, in some, they are desks, in another a bed and, in the performance’s final moments, either side of a forest path. Props are also minimal. The cast carry school backpacks from which appear, amongst other things, a laptop, a takeaway container and some scissors.

The lighting (Holly Ellis) is slick and perfectly reflective of the mood on stage. When Soph reads out a terrifying tale, the stage slowly darkens until only she is left in the spotlight. Green hues are also used frequently to give a thoroughly creepy feel to the show. There is potential for certain moments to be creepier – for example, the opening story about a disfigured woman would pack more punch if Parker was to wear a mask – but this had no real impact on the show’s overall affect.

Overall, Something Awful is a fantastic production which is sure to have even the most hardened horror fan on the edge of their seat.

Reviewed by Flora Doble

Photography by Lidia Crisafulli


VAULT Festival 2020



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Gracie – 4 Stars



 Finborough Theatre

Reviewed – 30th April 2018


“The performance is beautiful, pitched perfectly to capture both naivety and knowing”


Fundamentalism and personal freedom are examined in Gracie at the Finborough Theatre. Growing up in the confines of a fundamentalist Mormon Community in Utah, Gracie is a lively happy little girl consciously unaware of the restrictions put upon her. Produced by Tanzanite Theatre, Joan Macleod’s play has a tangible relevance in light of current gender politics.

One-person shows are tough, both for performer and audience. But this is an accomplished and engaging production. Although a guest on the set of another production, Gemma Aked-Priestley’s direction is light and encompassing, making full use of the intimate space. At ninety minutes, there are moments that seem prolonged, but Carla Langley’s energetic delivery never lets the pace dwindle too long. The performance is beautiful, pitched perfectly to capture both naivety and knowing. Gracie is charming and winsome, loving and trusting of her Mamma. Equally there are flashes of understanding as the demands placed on her and those she loves become more unsavoury. Langley creates Gracie’s family with precision and care. It’s a fantastic job.

The only weakness is in the Mormons themselves. Their lifestyle still seems obscure. Shelby, Jamie and Stanley, the men who pose a direct threat to Gracie and her family, remain largely abstract. Shelby has a charismatic menace, but we see little more to justify Mamma’s trust in him or understand her choice to bring her children to a place where she is immediately separated from son Billy. Jamie and Stanley are simply bad husbands. The good Mormon Sister-wives, while sympathetic, also lack depth. This for me is problematic. While seeing this world through a child’s eye allows us to see how indoctrination can be normalised, the danger seems too severe. It feels like while this piece has a very strong argument, it’s missing a component to give a fully rounded picture.

However, this is a thought provoking show with a memorable performance at its core. Definitely worth a look.


Reviewed for thespyinthestalls.com



 Finborough Theatre until 15th May



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