REVIEW: The little play on the big stage - Ugly Lies the Bone, National Theatre
REVIEW: Cooking up behind the scenes politics in Limehouse, Donmar Warehouse

Review: A walk in the dark - Killer, Shoreditch Town Hall

KILLER_Large_450_245_80_s_c1I'm in a cool, bare-bricked, concrete-floored room somewhere underneath Shoreditch Town Hall. I've been given headphones and an actor has run through a sound test to make sure they are working properly.

Then the lights go out and a voice comes out of the dark, it is sounds so close it feels like the person speaking is just an inch or two away from my face. Is that their breath on my neck I can feel or am I just imagining it? It's disconcerting, unnerving and a clever device.

Phillip Ridley's play Killer is three odd, horror-tinged stories, each told in a different part of Shoreditch Town Hall's abandoned-looking basement. There are some trademark Ridley features - the squeamish moments with animals that he seems to like - and sledge hammers are one of the recurring features.

The stories are expertly told complete with radio-play style sound effects and it is certainly different from your usual evening at the theatre. Killer seems to have gone down well with the critics with one even describing it as "essential" a word that, when used in relation to theatre, never fails to make me roll my eyes. (It isn't essential - nor vital, while we are in that vein.)

For me, once the novelty had worn off (and it did), all I was left with was a voice in the dark. As the chill started to set in I couldn't help wishing I was at home in the warm, listening to it over the radio from the comfort of my sofa or perhaps this is what is meant by suffering for art? While the vocal performance was excellent, I started yearning to see something. The stories are well written but my mind started wandering without visual distractions. Maybe that's my fault but there is a part of me that thinks I go to the theatre to see actors perform not just listen.

Killer is a novel idea but not one I felt connected with for the full 90 minutes. I'm giving it three and a half stars. See it at Shoreditch Town Hall until April 8.