Birdwatching marks a rare Clowns foray into this year’s London Horror Festival but it doesn’t quite hit the spine-chilling mark for me
“There just isn’t enough suffering for the audience to care”
Truth be told, I’ve rarely found that horror works particularly well for me onstage and so whilst the London Horror Festival gathers a huge well of creative talent every year, it isn’t necessarily something I gravitate to that much. Being able to stream a show tempted me in a little though, so I sat down last night to catch Birdwatching being performed at The Space.
Anarchy Division’s production of Miranda Barrett’s debut play sits in the space of psychological horror as we follow three young filmmakers as they journey into the woods with a videocamera in the depths of winter. So far so Blair Witch but as all three of them start to lose their grip on their sanity, Barrett probes into how the cards fall differently for the trio.
It’s a set-up that feels ripe with possibility but in the midst of a whole lotta strange goings-on in the forest, Birdwatching kinda loses its way. There’s not a lot of forward momentum to Barrett’s plotting, nor a level of explanatory detail to deepen the scenes where we’re meant to be scared, so the whole thing ends up feeling a little flat and unengaging, though live in the theatre may have been a different story.
That said, director Lydia Harper allows far too much tension to dissipate in overlong scene transitions which fatally and repeatedly snap us out of the mood. The slow build of dread needs to be continuous to be effective so the cast are thus fighting a losing battle which is a shame, as there’s some interesting work here, particularly from Alfie Noble’s (in-show) director whose journey has some really chilling moments.