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Grand-Guignol: Canterbury Times Review

Grand-Guignol: Canterbury Times Review

“The production was professional and solid with a strong cast.”

Original Article by Liz Crudgington, Canterbury Times – Thursday 31 July 2014

Eerie music floated through Whitstable town centre most evenings this week.

And anyone who tracked the source to the Playhouse Theatre and then went inside is braver than I am.

As soon as I heard the soundtrack to the Lindleys’ latest production, I began to regret my decision to see it.

And that feeling was not diminished when well-designed lighting and sound combined to make me jump within the first few minutes of the show.

But this reaction would be exactly what the original members of the Grand Guignol Theatre would be after – it is said they measured the success of their performances by how many people fainted.

I remained conscious, but that is no reflection on the cast or crew, who performed four plays that would have been seen in the Parisian theatre in its heyday.

As Playhouse audiences have come to expect, the production was professional and solid with a strong cast.

Stand-out performances for me were Dan Coles, who was perhaps a little too convincing in his second role as Henri, victim of a horrifying acid attack by his former fiance who believes revenge is a dish best served cold.

Lucie Nash, who played his attacker, used the interval to transform herself totally from bawdy temptress to tormented lover and showed her skill with characterisation.

Tics, the play Nash simpered and giggled her way through, was welcome relief after the tense terror of the first one, The Kiss of Blood. There was blood by the vial-full. Definitely not for the faint-hearted, but compelling to watch, preferably while squeezing someone’s hand. Claire Bushell also excelled as a dead wife trying to punish her husband (Dan Coles), who killed her – or did he?

Audiences could recover their senses during Tics, although the performers were getting hot under the collar as they portrayed the story of a dinner party where everyone seems to be sleeping with everyone else and their tics give them away. Richard Stone and David Bushell were particularly good at fully embracing their characters, and Alfie Merritt used his trademark deadpan style to good effect as the butler, who also joins in the fun at the end.

The final play, The Ultimate Torture, was perhaps more disturbing than the rest for its psychological horror. There was plenty of blood too, with missing limbs and dead bodies, but the real terror was the internal struggles of the characters, which each actor showed externally so well.

The show continues until Saturday, 2 August 2014 and some tickets are still available, so book your seats now.

Grand-Guignol Theatre of Fear at the Playhouse Theatre Whitstable

Tuesday 29 July – Saturday 2 August

Evening Performances: 7.45pm

Box Office 01227 272042 or visit www.playhousewhitstable.co.uk

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