The Unseen Hour: An Uneven 60 Minutes At The London Horror Festival

The Unseen Hour, The Pleasance Theatre ★★★☆☆

Mike Clarke
By Mike Clarke Last edited 57 months ago

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Last Updated 26 October 2019

The Unseen Hour: An Uneven 60 Minutes At The London Horror Festival The Unseen Hour, The Pleasance Theatre 3

Three actors, ten roles and a heck of a lot of noises make for the hilarious and enervating in The Unseen  Hour at The Pleasance Islington, part of the ongoing London Horror Festival. Think League of Gentlemen meets The IT Crowd and you’ll get something of its flavour, but there are traces of Monty Python, Dick Emery, every Radio 4 comedy you’ve ever heard, and even a nod to One Foot In The Grave fed into a giant (and very noisy) mixer and pumped out full volume.

Set in the post-apocalyptic far future — OK, 2020 — following an unspecified but clearly ghastly event (gosh — what could that be?), it’s a play about a radio recording that goes wrong, horribly wrong, with global pandemics, bodily possession and unspeakable creatures conjured on a tiny stage with Shakespearian relish. There’s also a Rocky Horror vibe, with a come-in-your-charity-shop-finery dress code for the audience, many of whom had clearly been before and knew what to expect.

Best moment: when our roguish hero (an energetic and knowing Brice Stratford) is invited to inhale the dusty remains of his nemesis by its ghost. Worst: following a rather limpid bit of performance poetry, Stratford’s character having nearly met his doom by crashing spectacularly through an 80th floor plate glass window, declaims, “Am I dead?” to which the audience might have responded, “no — but we are.”

Joey Timmins gets a special mention for her Margaret Thatcher-in-cat-makeup turn, and James Carney, who’s behind the whole thing, gives it loads of bells, whistles and moo-cow noises. The Unseen Hour might be The Uneven Hour for there’s a lot of sound and vision crammed in, but taken at the gallop, it’s macabre, campy fun performed with aplomb and the faint whiff of Guinness.

The London Horror Festival continues at The Pleasance and The Old Red Lion until 2 November 2019.