Revenge of the Grand Guignol

2 out of 5 stars
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Time Out says

2 out of 5 stars

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The London Horror Festival is the capital’s first event of its kind, a month-long celebration of new writing in the field of horror theatre. On the evidence of seeing two (of 11) productions, the LHF would appear to be a sparky idea hamstrung by some truly awful writing.

The main event is ‘Revenge of the Grand Guignol’, a bill of four short plays by Theatre of the Damned that are supposedly inspired by the repertoire of Paris’s infamous theatre of blood. The lame b-movies of Ed Wood might be a better reference point: the acting is largely terrible, the scripts seesaw between formula and gobbledegook, the limited special effects are clumsily effected and the whole thing’s roughly as scary as a soggy kitten.

The only bright spot is TS Richard’s ‘Hero’, a reasonably witty tale of a student philanderer getting his comeuppance that only loses it in the last few minutes with a daft descent into xenophobia. Pretty awful, then, though not without a certain so-bad-they'd-good watchability.

Ororo Productions’ adaptation of HP Lovecraft’s ‘The Dunwich Horror’ is better, though that's no guarantee that you'll be able to work out what's going on. A window into Lovecraft’s notoriously labyrinthine Cthulhu mythos, ‘The Dunwich Horror’ is enacted with a certain high-energy, tongue-in-cheek panache that seems to at least acknowledge how mental this is as an undertaking.

The story is something to do with a wizard who fathers a creepy albino who gives birth to another wizard and some sort of angry, invisible monster. It had a certain demented charm, though with the best will in the world you’re probably best off reading the book.

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