Phantasmagoria (3 stars)

This article is from 2015


Brief but potent immersive supernatural shocker based on Lewis Carroll poem

Set-up is everything in this brief but potent supernatural shocker from HitchHook Theatre, based on a little-known poem by Lewis Carroll. Divided up at random and ushered along by his fawning, nervy maid and butler, we discover a ramshackle, patchboard performance space (lovingly constructed) in which the hammy Victorian theatrical legend Charles Alderdice is about to deliver what he warns us is a spine-tingling account of his conversation with a ghost. What follows, however, struggles to live up to the show’s initial promise – even if it plays nicely with conventions of dramatic resolution, and ends up being more about Alderdice’s mental state than anything else.

Robert Oliver gives a suitably melodramatic, at times screamingly loud performance as the increasingly deranged Alderdice, and Laura Trundle and Calum McDonald are beautifully obsequious as his sidekicks. But it all feels a bit too slight, and brief – we could do with a bit more time to soak up the delapidated splendour of the all-surrounding set. Phantasmagoria is diverting enough, but feels like it needs to offer a fair bit more to make it revelatory.

C nova, 0845 260 1234, until 31 Aug (not 18), times vary, £4.50–£6.50.


  • 3 stars

HookHitch Theatre We enjoy stories because they have an ending; the falling of a curtain or the shutting of a book. But what happens when we cannot trust our storyteller? The worlds of horror and fantasy collide in a sensory journey of the imagination, as once-extraordinary entertainer Charles Alderdice attempts to bring…