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Theatre For Horror.

For the first time in years, I went to the theatre. And, for the first time ever, I went to see a horror play.

That said, it's not the first time I've heard of a horror play - or similar. Years back, in Toronto, there was Evil Dead: The Musical. This one I know about because a bunch of friends went. Gleefully showing the fruits of their labours while sitting in the front rows - waterproof ponchos splattered with blood. There was the stage show of The Fly - as in the Jeff Goldblum / Geena Davis outing. And then, a few years back, the stage play of The Exorcist.

In case you forgot or didn't know, I don't watch horror films any more. I've grown up watching them, but they took me to a point where it proved to be an unpleasant experience watching them. The grotesquerie of a werewolf transformation, the screaming, growling, ripping of clothes, mouthful of fangs, etc. Demonic possession; children with funky eyes and guttural voices. Jaws broken, eyes gouged, etc. Ghosts; rotting ethereal faces, displacement of objects and furniture, et al. That said, I love a good horror story, so I'll happily read them. With a film, you may have special effects added in where it's not possible in a play; which means the latter might be more bearable.

I caught wind of The Enfield Haunting play at the tale end of last year. I liked the poster; I thought it looked cool. A tale based on a true story about a poltergeist haunting. Then I read the reviews. Which were generally unfavourable. But when it comes to entertainment media, I don't usually have the majority opinion. Case in point: the theatrical cut of the Daredevil film (Ben Affleck / Jennifer Garner) is still in my top 20 films of all time. I'm aware that it's caught some flack in the past. And, yes, I've seen the Marvel TV series with Charlie Cox and Vincent D'Onofrio, which I also love.

I digress.

I don't make a habit of going to the theatre; the last time I went was some years ago with an ex-girlfriend. Mainly to pass the time; she wanted to see it, I racked up brownie points in the process. But a horror play in the West End (FYI, it's known as that, but it's actually Central London - go figure) was something I actually wanted to see. So I bought a ticket online for an afternoon showing on the weekend and swung by the theatre. In this instance, it was the Ambassadors Theatre.

As much as I wanted to see the play, I didn't want to shell out a fortune on a ticket. So I got a cheap one which, including the booking fee(?) came to £30 or so. I can live with that. I get across town to Leicester Square and immediately I'm reminded of one of the drawbacks to the West End; the sheer volume of tourists: shoulder to shoulder. And rubbernecking. Once I get to the theatre and get in, I'm reminded of why it's not my go-to medium. At 5'10" and around 220lbs, it's enough trouble fitting into a regular cinema seat. But, theatre seats - like these ones - are even smaller and with even less leg room. Cramped, to say the least. Luckily, I booked a seat in the circle; the royal box-looking thing at the side of the auditorium. Only 3 seats in the circle, of which I had the front seat - so no room to put my legs under the seat in front. But at least I can stand up to stretch my legs, if needed, and without blocking anyone's view. Anyhow. At the top of the show, there's a voice over the PA that the play's about to start and that there's flashing lights and loud noises. Ushers standing by with paddles showing signage for no pictures and no phone usage.

Then the lights dim.

To be fair, there were some good moments. The poltergeist activity, like the throwing of a couch, impressed me. That, and the acting from one of the younger actors - I forget her character's name. Things like recordings of eerie voices are expected fare. But on the whole, it fell short of the mark for me. The biggest drawback, I feel, was the lack of story in that it didn't go anywhere. The ghostly activity didn't escalate or dwindle, the human characters for me didn't show any growth or development, but just ...stayed as they were. And stayed in the house.

But there are a couple of things I take away from this. One is its potential as an entertaining medium, so I'm already on the lookout for more horror plays in the city. And two, the potential in actually writing something for this medium.



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