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Captive Audience, Islington Metal Works

Lawenda Jones, D.M. Larson and Victoria Jane Appleton
Directed by Victoria Jane Appleton
★★

Pros: Really cool and quirky venue, some decent performances.

Cons: Feels like the company has bitten off more than it can chew.

Our Verdict: Doesn’t live up to expectations unfortunately.

Courtesy of House of Tomen Productions

Hallowe’en. Ah, yes, it’s that time of year again. I must say that although I love to pretend I hate Hallowe’en, there is something quite fun about it. Not the slutty costumes, the excuses for binge drinking or the mandatory tub of Celebrations in the office… no, those things we could probably all do without. But for me, the appeal of Hallowe’en is in the fact that there are some fun, sometimes genuinely scary events happening around London. Captive Audience sounded like it would be one of those events; hosted in an old metal factory-turned-club around the corner from Angel tube station on a cold night, the setting was perfect for some edgy, cool theatre… But unfortunately the show wasn’t quite what it said on the tin.

Captive Audience is composed of three short plays, each performed by the same three actors. The idea of the production is to focus on themes that scare people, and I suppose that the three plays chosen by the production team do fulfil that goal. The first play deals with three friends who get stuck in a lift just after a breakup. Awkward secrets emerge, and the tension rises. This is Blackout by L. Jones. The second piece is Death Takes the Train by D.M. Larson, and this is a more light-hearted take on how to react when you happen to see the Grim Reaper commuting alongside you. Finally, director Victoria Jane Appleton’s own piece, Haunted House, is performed. The style of writing varies quite a lot from play to play, but although there are some interesting situations, these short performances all seem to end a little abruptly, without any real resolution. One couldn’t help but feel that it may have been more constructive to perform two slightly longer pieces than try to rush through three.

In terms of the actual performance, we were treated to some decent acting, but somewhere along the line it feels like something isn’t quite right. The show never really comes together to become what it touts itself to be, namely a piece which will “explore your deepest, darkest fears”. In fairness, there was a moment in Haunted House when it almost got there, but overall the show lacked momentum.

It is fairly difficult to pin down the reason why this production doesn’t quite hit the mark. My guess is that I left the venue feeling disappointed because the show failed to deliver what was promised in the blurb. As I mentioned earlier, Captive Audience sets itself up to be an edgy, immersive piece of site-specific theatre, but turned out to be well… plain. “Please note, this performance contains darkness, strobe light and spiders”, claimed the programme. It contained none. We look forward to seeing this young company’s next attempt, but for now, if you feel like getting scared on Hallowe’en, you’d probably be better off staying in and watching The Exorcist.

Please feel free to leave your thoughts and comments in the section below!

Captive Audience has finished its run at the Islington Metal Works, but for more information on the company please visit https://sites.google.com/site/houseoftomen/

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