Southwark Playhouse's Terror 2010: Death and Resurrection (to give it its full name), is back again. Thankfully free of vampires and werewolves, the show is made up of four short plays, three of which have been created especially for Terror 2010 by acclaimed writers.
The first pair, The Exclusion Zone by Mark Ravenhill (who we recently spoke to) and Neil Labute's The Unimaginable span the ridiculous to the sublime. The former begins with two gay daters trysting outside the city and beyond their comfort zone. The tale reaches an apparent denouement then suddenly veers from camp fire fare to high camp farce. If Ravenhill came to challenge our definition of horror, he's certainly achieved that.
American film director and screenwriter Neil Labute is best known for his wordy works and Unimaginable doesn't disappoint in this respect or any other; it is probably the best written and realised of the four pieces here. Labute plays to his strengths and presents us with a soliloquy with a difference. Moving around an unlit stage, the speaker addresses the audience telling of how he turns parents' misplaced trust and assumptions about their children’s whereabouts into opportunities for kidnap, violation, torture and murder. The near-total darkness means that the perverted protagonist’s face is never seen and that we are forced to focus on the words.
Before and between the plays, Sarah-Louise Young appears in a nurse's uniform to deliver some deliciously macabre cabaret numbers. Her pro-suicide song, delivered with a satanic smile, makes the case better than anything since the M*A*S*H theme tune†.
After the interval, April de Angelis’s Country introduces us to Elaine, a recent widow, and her psychiatrist friend who has come to comfort her. The story is dragged out and the ending will be patently obvious early on to anyone who has seen something a certain Mr Hitchcock made. The final play, Reanimator written by William Ewart from original short stories by HP Lovecraft, is the tale of two student medics who find a way to bring back the dead. The five actors play multiple roles crossing accent, age and gender with a fantastic fluency. The story is so-so but the acting here is worth the entrance price alone.
There are some deeply creepy moments in Terror 2010 and some unintentionally laughable ones but, as a whole, it hangs together and is a better overall experience than the wildly overhyped Ghost Stories. The phrase "real horror show" is eminently apt here.
Terror 2010 will be on at the Southwark Playhouse until Hallowe’en. The show lasts 135 minutes with an interval. "Terror 2010 contains scenes of a shocking and disturbing nature which some people may find distressing and so is strictly 16+." See here for tickets and more information.
An interview with Mark Ravenhill, talking about his plans for operas about Raoul Moat and Berlusconi's Italy.
We recently saw the powerful and harrowing Boiling Frogs at the Southwark Playhouse. We liked.
More Southwark Playhouse reviews here.
† Interesting fact: the lyrics to Suicide Is Painless were written by the 14-year-old son of Robert Altman. Altman senior made about $70,000 directing the film version of M*A*S*H; for his musical efforts, Altman junior walked off with over $1m or more than $5,000 per word.