Directed by Peter Snee
Pros: Some good performances and character interaction.
Cons: A clichéd evening where the acting, direction and script didn’t quite create the perfect recipe overall.
Our Verdict: Not great I’m afraid, but a decent attempt at the (extremely difficult) on stage horror which may get better with time.
|Courtesy of The Space
When I finally found The Space in East London, it was last thing I think I expected. I had disembarked the train at Canary Wharf and left the lofty glass towers behind me as I got the bus to my destination. The Space couldn’t be much more different from the manicured and unimaginative buildings of London’s banking sector. Instead, it’s a small-ish, old looking church/church hall transformed into a basic yet structurally interesting theatre. The venue also boasts a bar with an outside area that is tucked away from the street offering patrons a relaxing (if cold) interval.
Nightmare follows a newly married husband and wife as they discover every professional couple’s dream; a perfectly sized house situated in a quiet village not too far from the bright lights of London where they can begin their married life. But things begin to take a darker turn quickly when we discover the estate agent isn’t all she pretends to be. When Frank and Jenny return a day early from their honeymoon, catching the estate agent unaware, all they want to do is unpack and relax over the weekend. Unfortunately there is no key to the locked cupboard next to the bed or the freezer in the basement kitchen and the estate agents are being obstructive and secretive. All very mysterious…
The play is set over a weekend bursting with dangerous and scary events, from Frank being knocked out by a late night intruder to silent phone calls and vague, slightly off putting neighbours. All the audience can do is sit and watch events unfold for the worse.
I wanted to pity the characters but their naivety and seemingly deliberate attempts to be obtuse did nothing for me. At numerous points throughout the play I wanted to shout out “Why are you still in the house? You’ve just discovered the clothes of the previous tenant stuffed up the chimney. Get in your damn car and drive!”. Jennifer Quinn and Brian Paul Markay did redeem the characters when interacting, making for one of the most realistic couples I’ve seen on a fringe theatre’s stage. I was pleased to see none of the awkwardness or nicety you often witness when two actors have to get more personal than normal.
The venue fitted nicely with the script, which was itself relatively well written although oddly delivered in places. I wasn’t overly fond of the monologue at the end where the sole remaining villain explained the missing backstory and motives; I do think it is an outdated vehicle that if it’s going to be used at all, needs to be delivered by a strong actor, and while Kelly Craig performed the whole evening with energy and determination, it didn’t make up for this clichéd instrument. The most impressive part of this show was the sound design which, when combined with blackouts, caused the audience’s hearts to pump faster. I especially thought the use of speakers behind the audience were a nice addition.
I was expecting this play to be about the supernatural, it being this close to Halloween, and when it turned out to be a believable, if a little farfetched, conclusion I was disappointed. The show had some good parts to it but overall I thought the script, acting and direction didn’t quite match up to form a perfect triangle. I would however suggest that this show will show marked improvement as the run continues as this was only their second performance so far.
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Nightmare runs at The Space until 10th November 2012.
Box Office: 020 7515 7799 or book online at