Review - Last Orders: The Haunting Of The Old Red Lion
PUBLISHED: 11:45 24 October 2019
A production that tickles the senses and stokes the fire of curiosity with a well-paced, well-structured story.
This is about as site-specific as you can get. Earlier this year, intrepid three-piece theatre troupe the Knock Knock Club delved deep into the considerable history of Islington's Old Red Lion — a hostelry with a past that winds all the way back to 1415, during which time the likes of George Orwell, Thomas Paine and even Vladimir Lenin have rumoured to have passed through its doors.
It remains a vibrant venue in the heart of Angel today, of course, but rumours persist that it is not just visited by the living. This is where Last Orders: The Haunting of the Old Red Lion comes in. A docu-play that takes audiences into the dead of night and a ghost hunt that the company undertook in June across the three hallowed floors of the building. That means a night across the theatre itself, the main bar and, finally, the dark and dank cellar.
With a fourth wall-defying invocation for the audience to open their individual and collective minds the cast talk of their findings. Research extended to trips to the British Library newspaper archives for perusals of old editions of this very publication. Testimonials from previous Artistic Directors, Katy Danbury and Stewart Pringle, also refer to spooky sounds and mischief during their respective tenures.
With the use of a projector for interview footage and newspaper clippings as well as sound clips, this is a production that tickles the senses and stokes the fire of curiosity with a well-paced and structured story. The main thread is a re-enactment (of sorts) of their all-night stakeout where they used Ouija boards, planchettes and more to engage with potential spirits of the night that might have been occupying the Old Red Lion. The approach of splitting the three performers - Reece Connolly, Caroline Buckley and Christopher Keegan - into believer, cynic and agnostic works a charm.
This is not a scary night out, so don't go expecting a huge fright, but it is still a compelling walk amongst the ghosts of the Old Red Lion's past, present and maybe even future too. Catch it before it disappears.
Rating: Four stars.
More details and tickets here.