‘Yes the apostrophe is important’ as Dr Myra Lark (Sarah Douglas) put it, to distinguish between the very British evening before ‘Goody Goody Day’ and the American festival of begging for sweets.
Just before our weekend visit to Edinburgh (more on that soon) we went to see the Hallowe’en Sessions at the Leicester Square theatre in London’s west end on Hallowe’en night no less! The play is based upon those Amicus portmanteau horror films of the 1960s and 70s such as Tales From the Crypt or Dr Terror’s House of Horrors, where a series of short tales are linked by a overaching narrative set within a railway journey, an antique shop or some other suitable establishment.
In this case the linking narrative is a group therapy session within a secure mental hospital and downstairs at the theatre we were ushered into a tiny, dark room where five chairs and a desk were set up before the audience. A creepy nurse stood by as the five patients were ushered in to reveal just how they ended up wearing a dressing gown with no cord. A visit to cartoon theme park leaves a corpse with the impressions of Three Fingers, One Thumb on the throat, the mysterious Dr Babu proves that every favour given must be passed on no matter how gruesome, the furies of The Night-Born Sisters exact a terrible revenge, Case Study: Richard Gill results in murder when a spurned lover’s practical joke goes a bit too far and a family curse is the basis for the rhyme Marry in May, Rue the Day.
Each story was penned by a different author with the linking structure by Kim Newman
and just like the Amicus Horrors, some stories were really quite chilling like Billy Clarke’s powerful monologue in Three Fingers, One Thumb, while others were played more for laughs like Dr Babu. Each of the seven cast members took on more that one role each with all coming together for the ensemble finale of Marry in May, Rue the Day. Sets were pretty basic, just furniture moved around by the cast whenever the lights dimmed, but that was all that was needed for some very effective storytelling. All of the cast were very good and unlike the Amicus movies none of the stories were real clunkers.
The bad news is that the West end run has ended the good news is Dr Myra Lark will return.
I’d really like to see what would happen if some serious money were thrown at The Hallowe’en Sessions for a TV special, come on BBC it would be brilliant programming for next Hallowe’en.