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Home arrow Archive: Earlier Fringes arrow Archive: Brighton 2010 arrow Frightmare: Tales of Horror and Hysteria
Frightmare: Tales of Horror and Hysteria
Published on Monday, 10 May 2010

Often, the real test of a Fringe show's resilience is size. How well can the show cope when everything is squeezed? Micro budgets mean micro venues, micro casts, micro sets. And, more than everything, the scale of the Fringe can mean micro audiences too. I was once told the unwritten rule that if there are more punters than cast the show must go on; after midnight on a Saturday night there were only 5 of us asking to be entertained – but the cast numbered just 2, and they certainly gave us a show.

Using a play-within-a-play structure, the cast began as Jack and Mavis, a Victorian pen salesman and his wife hustling the toffs in the audience of a theatre. When the rapscallion couple discover the cast of the show seem to have gone mysteriously AWOL, they decide to perform themselves, for a healthy cut of the box office.

So Jack – who clearly thinks he knows something about showbiz – gives Mavis the advice that she should do big gestures and change her accent a lot, and they begin. First up is Poe's The Black Cat (with the cat himself played by a cuddly puppet), an always entertaining, gruesome tale that was clearly enjoyed by the small audience. Then follows WW Jacobs's The Monkey's Paw. It wasn't exactly the version of this story I remembered, but it was perfectly spooky and nasty.

Finally, we’re brought back to Jack and Mavis's world and the sense that, perhaps, things weren't quite what they seemed during their spooky show. And just what did happen to the original cast? Perhaps it is Jack and Mavis who ought to have been careful what they wished for.

This show is a late-night delight, full of tricks and treats. Particular favourites of mine were the jerry-rigged suitcase, fixed to turn into a shadow puppet theatre – which was used for the goriest part of each story – and the ingenious use of wallpaper to enact the walling up of a body. The cast, David Sayers and Emma Reade-Davies, are energetic and funny and do indeed do plenty of big gestures and change accent a lot.

Frightmare is a fun show, well devised and performed, that delivers all the entertainment and fear promised in its title.

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These are archived reviews of shows from Brighton 2010.  We keep our archives online as a courtesy to performers, and for readers who'd like to research previous years' reviews.