It’s not everyday that you rock up to a theatre to be offered some bread at the door (with a gluten-free option, so you can’t say the London Horror Festival doesn’t look after us punters), but Katy Schutte’s Let’s Summon Demons was not exactly an ordinary theatrical experience. Entering the black room selected guests were invited to sit with Rowan (Katy Schutte) on the stage We were also invited us to scribble down the worst way in which men had offended us on Post Its and drop them into a box centre stage.
Once settled in our seats we are welcomed to Rowan’s isolated Welsh guest house where the dog dares not go upstairs and we are taught a hymn to the goddess. You see we are all members of a gathering of female identified witches drawn together to mark the first anniversary of the passing of Rowan’s husband Alastair and the scattering of his ashes. But before we get into all that there are fortunes to be told by choice of biscuit!
As we dig into the box of Post Its our ceremony is interrupted by the arrival of a stranger. Wet and bedraggled Christian Walker has been lost on the moors for days since splitting up with his girlfriend. He’s also the spitting image of Rowan’s lost husband. Can our gathering keep Rowan safe?
I think its fair to say I had no idea what was about to happen when I took my seat at the beginning of the evening. Was Let’s Summon Demons some kind of ritual magic performance? was it a dark piece of drama of spiritual possession and reincarnation? was it a spoof? Turns out it was all three, with a dose of black comedy thrown in for good measure, which is the beauty of the London Horror Festival’s eclectic programming. Let’s Summon Demons is a totally immersive folk horror experience with a background drawn from personal experience that draws you into a universe not very far from that of The Blood on Satan’s Claw and The Wicker Man ( Woodward not Cage obviously). Schutte is totally at ease with her audience and wins them easily over with a confident performance that participation and improvisation with dexterously witty dialogue and some really nasty violence. Our kind of thing really!
Totally possessed we give Let’s summon Demons a big 666/666.
Katy Schutte was in a working coven in her early 20s where she became a third degree Gardnerian/Alexandrian witch. Her Grandmother owned and ran a (haunted) Bed and Breakfast in Wales where the dog would bark at nobody on the stairwell and guests complained of hands around their neck in Room 4. Katy is a maker of comedy and folk horror. And an atheist.
The London Horror Festival is at the Old Red Lion Theatre in Islington from Sunday 7 October until Saturday 3 November. The Old Red Lion Theatre is at 418 St John Street, London EC1V 4NJ. Nearest tube is Angel on the Northern Line. Tickets from the London Horror Festival website or Old Red Lion Box Office 0333 012 4963.