★★★★½ Jakop Ahlbom Company: Horror | Peacock Theatre | 25 & 26 January
An expertly choreographed masterclass in physical performance which packs in scares and laughs in equal measure.
The Jakop Ahlbom Company bring the frights and scares – plus the knowing humour – of big-screen horror to the stage in this inventive homage to the gothic ghost story. A talented cast of physical performers are a match for the technical ingenuities which allow for dismemberment, apparitions, disembowelment and other such nightmarish implausibilities.
The key ingredients are all present – the innocent young adults, the haunted house, the mysterious back-story and the horrifying moments of realisation. What makes it all so engrossing – and immense fun – is the thrill of seeing cinematic effects being pulled off, impressively, live on stage. Horror is, in way, like an 80-minute series of magic tricks – full of masterfully crafted misdirections, blink-and-you’ll-miss-it sleights of hand, and a soundtrack which lulls you into a false sense of security before sending you lurching from your seat.
One minor gripe – so minor as to account only for half a star (rather miserly of us really) – is that the first ten minutes feel a little slow. But once the axe makes an appearance, it’s the very best kind of horror show!
A woman returns with two friends to her parental home. The house is haunted by a tragic family event. None of the group knows what happened to the woman’s older sister. Her vengeful spirit, however, does make itself known to them. In a series of flashbacks, the past gradually re-emerges: the cruel parents, the crushed youth. The youngest sister is brutally confronted with the hidden past. The only way to survive is to face the terrible truth.