Review by Emma Whitelaw
JUST in time for the Halloween season, the Union Theatre,
in conjunction with experimental and new writing theatre company,
The Sticking Place, presents Terror 2004, a varied
programme of one-act plays, including original adaptations of
cult and classic horror and new writing in a modern ‘Grand
The world seems to have become complacent in the face of horror,
with films such as Scream, which manages to make a mockery of
it, despite falling into the horror genre. It appears we’ve
become somewhat anesthetised, so can anything shock us anymore?
Perhaps terrorism has become our new horror?
Terror 2004 takes horror back to its roots with the
mad professor-like Re-animator as well as introducing
a new kind of fear in the form of Martin Cooke’s Theatre
of Cruelty-inspired Pop Pop I Kill Them.
The double bill opened with Re-animator. Written by
William Stewart, it is an adaptation of HP Lovecraft’s original
gruesome tale of a young medical student, Herbert West, who is
obsessed with the idea of bringing the dead back to life. The
immensely talented Alex Bartram is superb as the insane scientist,
West, with the help of his assistant, Phillips, played by Adam
Meggido, has embarked upon a quest to perfect his reanimation
serum. A serum that, in theory, can bring the dead back to life.
But their mission leads to all sorts of ghastly consequences.
The serum is successful in waking the dead – but at what
West and Phillips are haunted by shadows and the reanimated undead
are uncontrollable and extremely violent.
Determined to attain perfection,
West decides that his best course of action is to shorten the
time between life, death, and reanimation, and thus he preys upon
an unsuspecting salesman that calls at his surgery.
It all turns pear-shaped, however, when both West and Phillips
flee the town and join the troops in Flanders where they have
access to even more 'fresh meat'.
The grisly ending is somewhat ironic – yet one cannot
help but feel sorry for West, his cure for death becomes the cause
of his own.
The second half of the night featured Theatre of Addiction’s
presentation of Pop Pop I Kill Them, which is supposedly
based upon ‘the true story of a freedom fighter and suicide
But, to be honest, I failed to find any meaning in the piece
whatsoever – which, from what I gather, wasn’t the
Writer director, Cooke, explains: "This play is not a discussion
it has no ‘meaning’. It is a distilled expression
of the addict’s experience.
"Every single word and comma of it is absolutely true and
real yet, ‘the word is not the thing’ it is merely
the signpost pointing towards ‘the thing."
I cannot help but feel the piece was self-indulgent, and the
audience did not seem to be as engaged with it nearly as much
as the players.
That said, I must admit the poetry featured was beautiful, as
were the notable performances given by the actors.
Not one for the faint-minded.
Reanimator, by William Stuart, an adaptation of 'Herbert
West: Reanimator', a serial of six stories by HP Lovecraft. Directed
by Adam Meggido. Starring William Arthur, Alex Bartram, Alex Blake,
Cornelius Booth and Tom McGairi. October 19 to 30, 2004.
Pop Pop I Kill Them written and directed by Martin Cooke. Starring
Evie Thornton, Kate Middleton, Sussana Kay and Paris Johnson.
October 19 to 23, 2004.
Terror 2004, Theatre of Horror and Grand Guignol. Now showing
at The Union Theatre, 204 Union Street, Southwark, London SE1.
Box Office 020 7261 9876.