Theatre Review: Berberian Sound Studio At Donmar Warehouse

Berberian Sound Studio, Donmar Warehouse ★★★★★

By Will Tizard Last edited 60 months ago

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Theatre Review: Berberian Sound Studio At Donmar Warehouse Berberian Sound Studio, Donmar Warehouse 5
Photo: Marc Brenner

Embracing and expanding on the technical master work and nightmarish descent of the main character in Peter Strickland’s original 2012 film, Berberian Sound Studio proves itself as an even more arresting thump in the night than the source work in this adaptation by Joel Horwood and Tom Scutt.

With a first-rate cast led by Tom Brooke as the wide-eyed Gilderoy, a socially challenged audio engineer from Dorking flown in to create the soundscape for an Italian exploitation film, the production brilliantly adapts its Donmar Warehouse staging: Characters sometimes shriek behind soundproof glass, sometimes slash away at melons or slosh tubs of water on the stage apron, all working in devilish synchronicity to create the audio for a sleazy movie we never quite see.

Photo: Marc Brenner

Lara Rossi serves up a defiant turn as brutally preyed-upon voice actress Sylvia, while sound design by Ben and Max Ringham chills, shocks and rocks.

Just don’t call it a horror film, demands Luke Pasqualino as the cocky would-be auteur Santini: “It’s a Santini film,” he declares to Gilderoy. It’s just one in a series of escalating mental and emotional demands to be exacted from the technician hired for his almost otherworldly grasp of aural landscapes, from which he can turn the most innocent nature recordings into  demonic rumbles. A wheezing mother or the cough of an actress morph into the calls of unspeakable evil in a story that celebrates both the genius and the shamelessness of low-budget art aimed squarely at the midnight movie demographic.

Photo: Marc Brenner

Berberian Sound Studio, Donmar Warehouse, 41 Earlham Street, Soho,WC2H 9LX. Tickets from £10, until 30 March 2019.

Last Updated 22 February 2019