Pros: A sparky performance from the cast using physicality to strengthen a weak script.
Cons: Disappointingly weak plotting, and a complete lack of suspense in a play that pitches horror as its central theme.
Presented as part of the London Horror Festival, The Wolves of Erin tells a folk horror story in the vein of classic movies like Witchfinder General and The Wicker Man, two brilliant examples of the genre that naturally sets the bar very high. Curiously, the story begins in Northern Ireland as a full moon provides the backdrop to the ambush of an army unit. Remus (Robert Eadon) appears to be the only survivor as he takes shelter in a barn for the night. He is soon forced to share the barn with two companions: Peter (Donncha Kearney) whom he believes was involved in the ambush, and Mary the Chair (Evelyn Lockley) who Peter believes is a werewolf. As a long night draws in, Peter and Mary slowly begin to manipulate Remus with tales of the wolves that used to inhabit County Tyrone. Who, if anyone, should Remus trust and will he ever be convinced that werewolves exist?
Although the premise for the story has great potential, it seems devoid of logic and reason. Locating the story in Northern Ireland might suggest a reference point for the troubles and sectarian violence. However, aside from the Irish accents of Peter and Mary, this story could be based anywhere in the UK. So there appears to be no real sense in the choice of setting which immediately weakens the plot. Mary the Chair got her nickname because she is confined to a wheelchair. Here, my obsession with logic kicks in again; why would a young girl in a wheelchair be wandering around the countryside in the dead of night? The plot never really gets anywhere and relies on a half-baked story about werewolves. I couldn’t quite get the image of Little Red Riding Hood out of my head; especially as wolves and barns and other folk tale motifs wove themselves into the storyline. The play simply fails to build on the basic idea and leaves an increasingly thin script stretching over 75 minutes. The cast gave it some welly, but the production lacked the atmosphere and suspense normally offered by the horror genre. A decent idea that just fails to launch.
Author: Ed Hartland
Director: Stuart Vincent
Producer: Oliver Towse and Ed Hartland
Box Office: 0333 012 4963
Booking Link: https://www.oldredliontheatre.co.uk/the-wolves-of-erin
Booking until: 21st October 2018