Theatre N16, London – until 8 April 2017
Guest reviewer: an anonymous theatre professional
Interactive theatre is hard work. Horror theatre is also palpably difficult to get right. In this case, the combination of the two proves too much for this able company of actors. Oneohone – a company specialising in interactive pieces – showcase a series of six shows, and I can only imagine that the other pieces were more successful than the piece that I see, which was at times a stilted, awkward affair.
The set up seems pretty fun – the audience are somewhere Victorian, interviewing to become the new tutors of the creepy children. First interviewed by the stern housekeeper (Harriet Madeley) we are then invited to speak to the children ourselves and “teach” them something.
This is where it suddenly falls down – by relying so heavily on the audience to generate this scene, it almost becomes impossible for the actors to keep up the tension. As a creepy young girl, Charlie Mulliner is excellent – direct and unnerving. But as an woman in her 20s, she’s swimming against the tide of disbelief when asking us innocent, childlike questions to our faces. I have less sympathy for Robert Nairne as the boy, who patiently struggled to keep the whole thing going.
There was one genuinely spine-tingling moment when the governess stops my interaction with the “ghost” character to ask, “who are you talking to?” and I automatically reply, “no-one”. The rest of the audience stare.
Aside from that, this work needs a lot more development. The actors work as hard as they can, but it’s difficult in a small room with a group of non-cooperative audience. Any laughs from audience members – nervous or otherwise – are prone to break the tension of the piece, and there isn’t enough of a resolution. It’s an interesting, ambitious work that doesn’t quite hit the heights it aims for.