In We Are Monsters and Glass, the mood is more uncomfortable than horrific – we are talking about illusion, storytelling, and how we see ourselves and others.
Glass is the more intriguing of the two and is a truly one-man show as Connor McCrory performs all the roles in his challenging play; the catch being they include the ‘voice on the phone’ which comes into the office in the dead of night.
As Brody returns from a fancy dress contest for Halloween, his cowboy get-up attracts the interest of a stranger, and they strike up an uneasy chat where threats are made and skeletons are revealed.
Whether pacing the room in panic or gleefully gaining a sense of the upper hand, Brody is a character we may not warm to, but invest in. The shifting sands of what is going on are well written and telegraphed, with the final moments stark and sudden.
What might work to improve the piece is seeing Timothy, the man on the phone, and picking up the pace slightly, but Glass is a tricky piece full of potential and starkly detailed writing.
In We Are Monsters, Kyle (played by writer Joseph Ryan-Hughes) and Caitlyn (Laura Mugford) have their own costumes of masks and flowing rags, as they head out to scare campers and give them a fright.
In a story that feels more Tales of the Unexpected than Hammer House of Horror, we follow the sibling humour and power-play until ghost hunter Wesley (Moses Alexander) arrives to disturb the equilibrium.
This is the Lake District, where scary stories take hold and local legends grow and develop. Who has the right to tell those tales and seek the truth? And who is to say after years of retelling and embellishing what the truth might be?
Benefitting both from the venue (Barons Court Theatre is in an atmospheric pub basement) and immersive sound design (by Glass‘s McCrory), We Are Monsters builds to scenes of carefully choreographed violence.
Zach Wyatt makes his directing debut here, and he shows a flair for difficult scenes and close character studies. He brings the best out of his writer-performers and their colleagues.
From any audience vantage point, you can enjoy a different perspective on both plays, and if you remember to look beyond the obvious, you will be rewarded by solid acting throughout.
Just A Regular House is an emerging theatre company with a sense of the absurd and a solid technique. This double-bill will give you the shivers, as befits Halloween, and also leave you guessing.
Image credit: James Lahaise