The Shadow over Innsmouth Theatre Review
Written by Becky Roberts
You stroll past the alternative thrift and kooky vintage shops on Camden High Street into just another unassuming London pub, the Oxford Arms. In the corner is a narrow entrance and through it, upstairs, a handful of bench rows and a humble stage the width of a classroom: The Etcetera Theatre, one of London’s better ‘theatre pubs’. It’s a Friday night and London-based horror theatre company Hidden Basement Productions is bringing its darkly comic adaptation of H.P Lovecraft’s 1931 novella The Shadow over Innsmouth for a three-night run following a sell-out debut performance at last year’s London Horror Festival.
For the uninitiated, the plot goes as follows: Our protagonist writer feels a mysterious pull to investigate a small, isolated seaside village of Innsmouth and, against all advice, goes sniffing around the peculiar locals only to discover their secret ancient pact with malicious fish gods to breed immortal fish-frog creatures. But it’s not something he can simply leave on the pages of his book, for its terrifying history will threaten his sanity and change his life forever.
It’s an outstanding two-man on-stage effort from charismatic duo Philip North and Jade Allen, supported by an atmospheric soundtrack, effective use of puppetry and a mere basketful of props. North pulls off a magnetic, often explosive performance as protagonist and narrator, while Allen’s knack for accents and diverse characterisations see her take on the amusingly unyielding fiancé and a handful of queer locals.
Successfully basking H.P Lovecraft’s enigmatic narrative in an air of mystery and suspense, coupled with enough witty dialogue to keep you chortling along, Hidden Basement succeeds in fitting a uniquely comic, gloriously entertaining piece of fringe theatre into a sharp, water-tight and well-crafted 45 minutes that, if a re-run is realised, should not be missed.
For £7, you’d be hard-pushed finding a bigger thrill for a smaller spend in capital, which is only reiterated by the typically cruel cost of a pint of Stella downstairs.
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