Terrifying Women II: The Return is ghoulishly good fun at Camberwell’s Golden Goose Theatre
“I’d like to tell you a story…”
Whether you consider Halloween Ends to be the 4th or 13th entry in the series, it is clear that if you are making an entry into the horror market, you gotta be thinking about a franchise. So after Terrifying Women shook up the horror theatre world last year, it should come as little surprise that like Glenn Close in that bath, they’re coming back for more in Terrifying Women II: The Return at the newly revamped Golden Goose Theatre.
Terrifying Women are producer Amanda Castro and writers Morgan Lloyd Malcolm, Sampira and Abi Zakarian and between them, there’s a really quite invigorating reappraisal of what horror can do on the stage. This series of monologues, new pieces from the trio plus work from three new featured writers – Rebecca Batala, Kandy Rohmann and Peyvand Sadeghian – takes us way past retreads of Dracula, Frankenstein and Jekyll & Hyde to creep out audiences once again.
That’s not to say they don’t know the value of a good old-fashioned fireplace yarn. We open with Lloyd Malcolm’s Beware the Old Woman in the Woods which Karren Winchester delivers with torchlit glee (did everyone have one of those scary houses out of the way in their childhood?!). But we also close with Abi Zakarian’s right on the nose Serial Numbers: Society’s Obsession with Mass Killers which lands its punches precisely and squarely as it indicts our misplaced prurient interest in killers over victims, Johnnie Fiori’s lecturer taking zero prisoners in its highly entertaining delivery.
Widening the slate of writers does naturally mean that the variety of storytelling on offer increases and that can invoke the Revels effect. Not all of the pieces sent shivers up my spine the same way but the eeriness of Peyvand Sadeghian’s Restless worked its way into my brain in Maia Tamrakar’s emotional performance and the traumatic underpinning of Rebecca Batala’s Rubble is disturbingly persuasive. A shout-out too to technical stage manager Lauren Wedgeworth who deploys her perfectly timed interventions to maximum effect.