Last weekend we had the pleasure of seeing the final night of Nicholas Vince’s new play, What Monsters Do, at the Etcetera Theatre in Camden as part of the London Horror Festival.
Vince, who is perhaps best-known for his role as the Chatterer Cenobite in Clive Barker’s Hellraiser films, worked closely with Hidden Basement Productions in order to bring two stories from his What Monsters Do collection to the stage in a ground-breaking horror double bill.
First up was Tunes from the Music Hall. The story centres on a young man who also acts as the narrator. Played by Doug Colling, the young man peers out of the window from his room and sets the scene of the bustling Victorian street before turning around to reveal a viciously scarred face and a sad, lonely disposition. However, when we meet Albright (Mark Philip Compton), the landlord of the property, we learn that the young man is a ghost and that he died in the house.
Albright rents the house to Rudolf (Craig Hannah), his wife Bella (Tara Howard) and their daughter Victoria (voiced by Tallulah Ward). Despite Victoria’s initial scare when she sees the young man’s ghost (she is the only one who does), the family settle in well and the young man finds a friend in Victoria, who reminds him of his little sister.
It isn’t until an extended trip in Italy and the introduction of Rudolf’s friend Angelo (Harpreet Chagger), that things start to turn sour and the once courteous ghost becomes aggravated. In a thrilling twist of events, it is one shock after another before the story concludes into an explosive finale. We were literally on the edge of our seats as we watched Rudolph and his family’s story unfurl and delved into the backstory of how the young man came to perish. Exceptionally well-acted, Doug Colling and Craig Hannah truly excelled in their roles.
The second serving of the double bill was Green Eyes. Set on a snowy day and with Craig Hannah narrating, the story focuses on Justinian (Compton) and his wife Sally (Melanie Fenn) who are waiting for a guest to arrive for dinner. Later we find out that the guest is a young man called Davis (Colling) who believes that Sally might be his real mother.
From the outset it is clear than Justinian is not altogether a ‘well man’, in fact, he seems pretty psychotic right from the opening scene whereby he stares out the window at the snow, stroking the family cat. Green Eyes is a much lighter story than Tunes from the Music Hall and from that very first scene, the audience wasn’t far off doubling over with laughter, which seemed only to spur Compton on, pushing him to reach further depths of creepiness (the kind of creepy that makes you physically shudder).
The audience watched (and chuckled) in amusement as the couple’s guest arrives and the evening gets off to an awkward and, not to mention, rocky start. After dinner, everyone retires to the living room and this is when things really start to heat up, with Justinian becoming seemingly more unhinged and inhuman with each moment that passes. Then comes the twist and boy, is it a good one.
Intelligent, witty, scary and refreshingly original, What Monsters Do is an exceptional stage play. The overarching genre of horror interlinked with themes of melancholy, humour, lust, obsession and family, made this production one of the most enjoyable plays we have had the pleasure of seeing this year.
The actors were all perfectly suited to their roles and each gave a fantastic performance, Philip North’s direction was spot on and, of course, Nicholas Vince’s writing was superb. We cannot praise What Monsters Do enough and we look forward to Hidden Basement Productions next offering.
Read our preview here.
For more information, email Hidden Basement Productions or follow them on Twitter at @HiddenBasement.
Follow the London Horror Festival on Twitter at @LndnHorrorFest.