Theatre Review: Dark Tales at Upstairs at the Gatehouse
Frights a plenty with a trio of ghostly plays in this debut production
Initially a mixed bag, Dark Tales is much stronger in the second half.
This is Ian Breed’s first professional foray into writing and directing and says he is aiming to explore how to “scare” a modern audience.
The concept is interesting and as a starting point this production provides plenty of material which could be further developed.
The first act comprises two short plays, almost sketches and a spooky story.
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Unfortunately the first, Bloody Mary, is worryingly predictable.
However, credit to the actors and direction as they built the suspense to genuinely make the audience jump at key points even though we all knew what was coming.
- 1 Police cordon in place after Essex Road pub 'assault'
- 2 Petrol station forecourts closed and long queues in north London
- 3 How some Islington tenants are losing their homes in a matter of minutes
- 4 Thousands of care home staff yet to be vaccinated in London
- 5 Man killed and two injured in triple shooting
- 6 Finsbury Park man arrested on suspicion of second north London murder
- 7 Man killed in 'shooting' in north London
- 8 Stop the Burn: Protest planned against Edmonton incinerator rebuild
- 9 Man jailed for rape of young girl in north London 40 years ago
- 10 'Proper old Islington boozer' voted best pub by readers
The second, Unsound Mind, provided an interesting twist at the end but slightly banal dialogue and a lack of tightly drawn characterisation left me feeling there was an unlocked potential, which would benefit from a longer and fuller treatment.
The Evacuee in Act Two was the highlight.
A much more rounded piece, it created an undercurrent of tension and increasing curiosity, and the final resolution was almost worthy of the cult 1980’s TV series, Tales of the Unexpected.
Monique Cunningham turned in a fine and convincing performance as the little girl from London in the Blitz foisted on the grumpy George who was hiding his own dark secret.
Her physicality was spot on in an honest, open and engaging portrayal.
Overall an entertaining evening showing the scope for this type of work, which the company will hopefully take on to its next stage.
* Dark Tales is showing at Upstairs at the Gatehouse, in North Road, N6, until September 11