28 January 2015

DIY Horror Play at The Cockpit Theatre was delightfully horrific

This could have been a disaster in so many ways, and almost was. I had to content with maps, gates and French but it was worth it for the sheer exuberance of the play.

A gory but fun horror story in the pulp fiction mold had an obvious appeal and would be rather different from what I usually see. I also liked most of the aims of the performers who said , "Our shows combine intense physical performances with multiple languages and strong visuals and sound." I lied all of that apart from "multiple language" but an exchange of emails with the theatre reassured me that I did not need to know any French.

I did not expect the show to be sold out and so I set off for the theatre confidently and looking forward to the walk, a walk I had done only a few days previously to see The Three Sisters. This time I decided to take a slightly more northerly route including going through Regent's Park. My maps app agreed that it was a good idea but neither of us realised that the park would be shut and I was forced to take a long detour around the top of the park, but that was alright as I had plenty of time.

Then the maps app and I made our next mistake. Somewhere near Palgrave Gardens I avoided the correct left turn as that looked to be a private path through a Council estate and instead turned left immediately before it into what turned out to be a private path through a Council estate. I walked to the far end expecting to find another way out but the only gate there was closed and locked. So I went all the way back to the main gate only to find that closed and locked too. It must have been open to let a car in or out when I arrived there and the automatic gate had closed silently behind me.

It took several minutes for the anger to start to morph toward unease as no other cars came or went to open the gates and the one flat that could see me waving desperately just ignored me. I knew that I would get out at some point but was beginning to doubt that I it would be in time to see the play. Having no luck at the main gate I went back to the pedestrian gate at the far end and was delighted to see that while it was locked it could be forced open, which I did.

I got to the Cockpit with a few minutes to spare, enough minutes to get a beer and a bag of Nobby's Nuts, the evening meal of choice for after-work theatre going. After the ordeal of getting there I was ready for some entertainment.

The set was not very promising as it had absolutely nothing on it, but I took a picture of the view from my seat anyway.

The simple premise of the story was that a woman was being let out of an asylum and this was her last night there. Most of the nuns who ran the place were away attending a wake for a colleague and the lady went around the empty building looking for one person, avoiding others and trying to keep out of trouble so that she could leave the next day.

Lighting and sound immediately played a big part in the show, as they should in a horror story. The stage stayed dim most of the time and clever lighting was used to mark out corridors, which only appeared when somebody was in them.

Lots of bad things were hinted at and some of them happened. One of the people she met did vile things to animals to change their form, such as transforming a dog into a seal by taking its legs off. Luckily there were no props for this but the descriptions were bad enough to evince plenty of groans from the audience. Worse was to come, like the film of addition pieces being sewn into a living brain to make the animal more intelligent.

The ending was pretty gory too.

There was a reasonable amount of French towards the end and while the several French people in the audience laughed more than I did I could at least follow the gist of the story and was not completely lost. It is over forty years since I did 'O' Level French and it was not one of my better subjects.

After the play the three creatives of Two Tongue Theatre, all young women and two of them French, gave a short explanation of how they created the play from two Grand Guignol pieces and how they did some of the gory effects. It was a nice coda.

The play over I went back to the bar for a final beer.I would normally try and get to speak to the creatives at that point to give some positive feedback but they were all busy with friends so I left them alone. It was a nice surprise, therefore, when one of them broke away from her friends to ask me what I thought about the show. I was delighted to be able to tell her that I enjoyed it immensely.

DIY Horror Play was deliciously different and delightfully horrific. It was the perfect antidote to the real-world horrors that had preceded it.

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