Search

Theatre review: Drowning Rock at Camden People’s Theatre

PUBLISHED: 14:51 26 October 2012

Drowning Rock at Camden's People Theatre. Picture: Joe Martin

Drowning Rock at Camden's People Theatre. Picture: Joe Martin

Moemario 2012

H.P. Lovecraft-inspired play is perfect Halloween entertainment

SCREEECH!! The light at Drowning Rock’s rotting lighthouse suddenly dies once again, gravely endangering the lives of seamen at an evil spot that’s claimed countless victims down the centuries, somewhere off the coast of Cornwall.

James Hawker (the mild-mannered Andrew O’Donoghue) has been drawn to this diabolical location by the mysterious drowning here some years before of his wreck-diver father. What he sees, smells, hears and feels during his troubled stay will leave Hawker himself a gibbering wreck in a nursing home.

Early 20th century American horror genius H.P. Lovecraft – who Stephen King says is his biggest influence – inspired writer Matthew Wood to imagine this terrifying tale, specifically Lovecraft’s 1931 story The Shadow Over Innsmouth. Wood’s day job, incidentally, is writing and directing theatrical scenes for tourists at the Tower of London.

Hawker’s hosts at the lighthouse are its keeper, old Roper, who’s full of unsettling yarns (played captivatingly by John Gregor) and his weird sidekick, mute Jim (JP Lord).

Abby Blears plays a cannibalistic ghost who at one point has the delicious task of regurgitating a half-eaten forearm into her baby’s mouth, for junior’s din dins.

Although a bit sluggish at times, the impressive staging in this small venue meant I was more often on the edge of my seat, hairs on end, than sitting comfortably.

An imaginatively deployed plastic tarpaulin at the back of the stage becomes variously a ship’s sail, a storm, then a screen onto which photos are projected.

Scary sound effects and clever lighting – including the dazzling use of a solitary torch – mean you can almost feel the sea spray, taste the salt and metallic blood.

But it’s Roper’s chilling stories that really get under your skin, tales of a watery world under the waves where the devil himself hangs out, of sea witches and she-pirates, legends of “the good, the bad, and the even worse.”

Perfect Halloween entertainment, in other words.

* Drowning Rock is at Camden People’s Theatre, Hampstead Road, NW1 until November 4.

0 comments

Latest Islington Entertainment Stories

40 minutes ago

Climate change, grime and black masculinity, mobile phones, young adult fiction, short stories and more

16:00

His new album Gary Williams at the Movies is a combination of classics

Emma Bartholomew eats at The Don, a smart City restaurant with elegant surroundings and charming service that won’t break the bank

The Horrors’ flights of fancy circle the ever-generous carcass of ‘80s electro-pop

Newsletter Sign Up

Sign up to receive our regular email newsletter

Most read entertainment

Show Job Lists

Digital Edition

cover

Enjoy the
Islington Gazette
e-edition today

Subscribe

Education and Training

cover

Read the
Education and Training
e-edition today

Read Now