28 Oct 2014
|
Comments

Grand Guignol Southwark Playhouse

Grand Guignol Review Southwark PlayhouseI didn’t know much about Grand Guignol before entering the Southwark Playhouse last night, however after two deliciously dark hours I can now tell you that Grand Guignol is a perfect piece of autumnal theatre; it is simultaneously dark, mysterious, ghoulish and bloody funny!

According to my programme notes, the Grand Guignol was a real Parisian theatre of horror around the late 19th/ early 20th century. In the Theatre du Grand-Guignol, the players performed grisly displays of horror under their most prolific playwright, Andre de Lorde (the “Prince of Terror!) Carl Grose has ingeniously drawn on these historical events in order to generate a gruesome farce, depicting the madness of Andre and his band of theatrical jackals.

It is completely the right decision to present this show as a comedy; the premier sketch of the show was a rip roaring, hum dinger of an opening. Immediately the audience is drawn into a world of insanity, blood, guts and severed tongues! The show works best during these moments of theatrical chaos, generating comic pace and frantic hilarity.

All six actors are masters of gothic performance! Each had their merits, for example Emily Raymond was hilarious as the metatheatrical leading lady and has a shriek that could shatter windows. Paul Chequer was thoroughly entertaining in the opening sequence and continued to entertain as the gruesome props master. Jonathan Broadbent is clearly a huge acting talent and displayed a range of acting styles ranging from enthusiasm, hard graft and downright insanity! Robert Portal was just born for horror with his Victorian looks and deep voice and finally, Matthew Pearson juxtaposed them all with a level of sanity (that of course was eventually brutally stripped away.)

The intimate size of the Southwark Theatre stage helped to heighten the horror already present in Alex Doidge-Green’s designs, which were at times very Antonin Artaud-esque! I specifically loved the use of “lightning” and a rocking ceiling above the audience, which were nice touches indeed.

Whilst I loved the Edgar Allan Poe raven references, the Andre, Poe and the psychologist scenes became a bit tiresome. I much preferred watching the company as a whole construct their ghastly fantasies, which were entertaining and engaging!

Overall I think the tone set in Grand Guignol is just right and those who love a bit of dark humour will very much enjoy this show. Whilst the piece is well timed for Halloween, it is also a good early winter piece of theatre…something to scare audiences on dark nights!

Grand Guignol runs at the Southwark Playhouse until Saturday 22nd November. I’d definitely recommend booking tickets to see this show (that is if you are able to stomach a bit of fake blood and eye gouging!)

Grand Guignol review London 2014

Rebecca

About the Author

Rebecca is a cheeky London lady with a love of theatre, cheese and wine (preferably all at the same time!) She graduated from Goldsmiths (University of London) with a First Class Honours degree in Drama and Theatre Arts and later went on to study for an NCTJ postgraduate diploma in Journalism.

comments powered by Disqus
Latest

Goodness me I love this time of year! Why? Because I get to bask in the sun with a pint of cider at the London Wonderground before heading into the magical spiegeltent to watch some freaky circus. It is a glorious existence! Luckily for me, summer came a few weeks early as I was invited […]

Latest

Amber Riley has confirmed dates for her annual leave from Dreamgirls at the Savoy Theatre. Currently performing as the iconic Effie White, the Glee actress recently picked up the gong for Best Actress in a Musical at the 17th annual WhatsOnStage Awards, beating out West End heavyweights such as Glenn Close and Sheridan Smith. Making her […]

Latest

The beauty of Shakespeare lies in the fact that you can do with it what you will; cut it, mould it, pull it into the future and, in this case, cross-gender cast to your heart’s content. With acclaimed performances from leading actresses such as Maxine Peake in Hamlet to Glenda Jackson’s upcoming performance in King […]