Terror 2010: Death and Resurrection at Southwark Playhouse

Written for TheatreFix

Terror 2010

With reanimated rabbits, Chernobyl mutants and belly dancing, Terror 2010 is an odd mix that doesn’t always quite hit the mark. Comprised of four short plays interspersed with cabaret-style numbers, the evening has a varied programme. Billed as a ‘theatre of horror’, camp zombies were not quite what I was expecting however.

Mark Ravenhill’s The Exclusion Zone includes many of his usual tropes. Centred around a gay liaison in which sex flirts with death, Pete and James play on each others’ fears. It’s initially psychologically enticing, and the audience is ready to be scared. Unfortunately Ravenhill injects a little too much of the surreal; things turn implausible and are rounded off with a strobe-lit song and dance number from a team of zombies.

The Unimaginable by Neil LaBute, though short, is wearyingly predictable. That which is potentially scary is left hanging for too long; when it finally happens, it’s a real anti-climax. Scott Christie is an adept performer, but the piece leaves little room to show his talents.

The second half of the evening yields more promising material, but continues in a similarly underdeveloped vein. April de Angelis’s Country is the most plausible of the pieces, and the most ripe for further work. There are clever characters and a surprising storyline that is well played by Trudi Jackson and Caroline Langrishe. As with the other pieces, however, as soon as it takes a turn for the implausible our interest and suspension of disbelief is lost.

William Ewart’s Reanimator, an adaptation of short stories by HP Lovecraft, is the longest piece of the evening. Occasionally intriguing, it felt like it could have spat things out in a much shorter, more condensed and effective drama.

There are several good ideas floating around in Terror 2010, but a teenage impetus and a lack of development in places lead to an evening of theatre considerably less satisfying than we would like it to be.

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