A/V Room









Union Theatre presents a unique festival of full-bloodied horror

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 Guignol’ idiom.

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.

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 cost?

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 bomber’.

But, to be honest, I failed to find any meaning in the piece whatsoever – which, from what I gather, wasn’t the intention anyway.

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.

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