Nick Le Mesurier reviews Lurking in the Loft, running at the Loft Theatre until November 1
Down in the cellars something stirs. A door slams, a scream is heard, a shadow passes - but there’s no-one there. Theatres are amongst the most haunted places on earth: all those ghosts of characters drifting on and off stage, those actors long gone, whose performances resonate down the years, those strange atmospheres. And then there are the patrons, those people hidden in the wings, who have invested in the strange resurrections of words and scenes whose origins are forgotten but which live on in the imagination. The very atmosphere of a theatre reeks of things that have passed.
So it is in Lurking at The Loft, The Loft Theatre’s latest show, which takes us on a tour of places hidden from most of us mere mortals; the shadowy basement rooms haunted by strange beings, some more dead than alive, where the magic is made. In small groups we are taken through a maze of corridors where the unwary guest might find him or herself lost. We hear of the terrible deaths at the hands of the man dubbed The Leamington Lurker, whose macabre fancies bestowed the town’s finest theatre with props and costumes. Our guides are men and women driven mad by who knows what horrors? Zombies lurk in the corridors, there’s a woman with a noose for a necklace, and our reward for our courage is a macabre feast served up by ghouls with a taste for flesh.
Elizabeth Morris’s recreation of Halloween thrills is clever piece of chicanery delivered promenade style that delves deep into the very fabric of the theatre. Drawing on some of the younger members of The Loft’s crew, it is perhaps more intriguing than genuinely terrifying, though I wouldn’t recommend it to small children or those of an especially nervous disposition. It leaves a nice frisson of fear, rather more palpable than most of the plastic tat that is sold to acknowledge our day of the dead, the more real for being performed live – or dead.
* Visit lofttheatrecompany.com to book