Saturday, 1 November 2014

'Grand Guignol' Southwark Playhouse ***

What happens when you combine both horror and comedy together to devise a thrilling experience? Southwark Playhouse's current production of Carl Grose’s, ‘Grand Guignol’ was one that features some chilling elements, but an array of such aspects lacked some sophistication. ‘Grand Guignol’ first premiered at the Theatre Royal Plymouth studio theatre is set within the Parisian theatre of horror the Theatre du Grand Guignol, which demonstrates not only the theatre’s impressive repertoire, but the work that happens backstage. Dr Alfred Binet, a panicky psychiatrist is an enormous theatre enthusiast, is presently conducting an intensive study into the traumatic experiences within a playwright’s life can have a humongous effect on his work. During the course of one of the theatres shows, Max Maurey, the theatre manager believes that the doctor is a theatre critic, because he's taking notes throughout, when Dr Alfred reveals he is genuine occupation as an academic practitioner, Alfred requests an interview with the theatres resident playwright, Andre De Lorde. The discussions between Dr Alfred and Andre establishes Andre’s piercing pain radiates through his father's fierce nature when he was a child, and the presence of his father generates the concepts of the work that he writes. Andre encourages Dr Alfred to collaborate with him, and write a play together. As well as, we come to learn that Dr Alfred’s childhood has prompted his enormous amount of anxiety, because of frequent bullying he had inflicted on him when he was at Boarding School. Grose’s narrative is tolerable as the play does stream quite naturally with the processes of each performance that the Theatre du Grand Guignol presents. Paradoxically, one found it required further fluidity within some of the horrific scenes. The performances by the company of ‘Grand Guignol’ were categorically watchable as we can fundamentally observe a wondrous camaraderie within the theatre’s company of actors and crew. Matthew Pearson is noble as the unnerved, Dr Alfred Binet; especially when we see his ferocious wrath shatter when he is confronted by the supposed appearance of the chartered bully who tormented him. Jonathan Broadbent is decent as the somewhat mentally unstable playwright, Andre De Lorde; exclusively when the ghost-like figure of his nasty father forcefully plagues him to write countless scary plays, and his pretentious characteristics were exceptional. Andy Williams is intriguing as the theatre manager, Max Maurey; in particular when he advocates his protection of his beloved venue, and his constant bribery to the theatre critics were extremely comical as one often wonders when I may be enticed. Simon Stokes' direction is acceptable here as you are allowed to see how special effects are constructed within the theatrical art, and how companies of actors and crew seem to bond quite meticulously to conceive and produce the plays. Alex Doidge-Green’s designs are opulent as it accompanies not only the processes on the proscenium arch, but the action in front of the curtains too. In addition, one admired the scenic art elements within this performance; such as the cloth of the blue skyline. Overall, one found the experience of ‘Grand Guignol’ to be vastly worthy, and even though one has been somewhat critical about the performance, it should be witnessed.

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