It had been a while since the Hothouse last climbed up the stairs to Camden’s intimate Etcetera Theatre and it was with a mounting sense of excitement that we took our front row seats (remembering the two-row splatter zone at Re-animator the Musical in Edinburgh) for Hidden Basement Production’s adaptation of HP Lovecraft’s The Shadow over Innsmouth.
Fortunately we had no need to fear being splattered, which given Innsmouth’s fishy subject matter and our pre-theatre dinner at Poppies (best fish and chips in Camden) is just as well. As the lights dimmed the cast took to the stage. Philip North was Robert the antiquarian who visits takes the bus to Arkham via Innsmouth to save a few dollars on his train fare and ends up trapped by the town’s fishy denizens in his hotel room while the remarkably versatile and energetic Jade Allen played everybody else from Robert’s plummy bride to be to and the shop boy to crazy old Zadok and the Welsh tinged leader of the fish-men Obed Marsh.
Inventive use of puppets and costumes helped Allen get around playing so many characters, while scenery was reduced to a pair of clothes horses which with a good dash of imagination did for walls and curtains to be peered out of, and together with much rushing out of the exit and back in through the stage door the cast more than capably carried the story off between the two of them. Yes old HP wasn’t being taken completely seriously by Allen and North, who injected a walloping great dose of welcome verbal and physical humour into Lovecraft’s narrative, and as all successful horror comedy should work the audience found themselves laughing along with the story rather than at its sheer preposterousness.
An excellent night out with great performances and a witty script, I give The Shadow over Innsmouth a big 666/666 we look forward to seeing more from Hidden Basement in the future.
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