London Horror Festival: When Horror Takes Center Stage

To pique my curiosity is not an easy task and I often find myself disillusioned by most of the contemporary attempts. Until I came across the London Horror Festival...

Cover Photo: 2015 Official Poster designed by Alex Singleton, courtesy of London Horror Festival

I imagine by now it’s not a secret that I’m a fan of horror, in all its formats. I’ve been through enough “jump scares” in my life to the point I’m almost immune. Almost. The thrill doesn’t come from what rushes through your mind while you’re experiencing it, but what lingers afterwards and keeps you (slightly) awake at night; your imagination runs wild and you can swear you saw something move from the corner of your eye. As you can see, to pique my curiosity is not an easy task and I often find myself disillusioned by most of the contemporary attempts. Until I came across the London Horror Festival…

When you are watching a horror film or reading a horror novel, chances are that when you get too scared to bear it you simply turn it off (or close your eyes if you’re at the cinema) or shut the book (raise your hand if you were ever so scared to keep reading that you forgot to bookmark the page before closing the book). I thought the upgrade to this, were the horror-themed attractions – the ones that force you to endure minutes of screaming and running (with the disclaimer, in the beginning, to not touch the actors). Once you’ve done all these more times than you can count, people will hardly take a “meh” out of you as an answer to “so what did you think?”

Then the festivals, usually revolving around independent films of the genre with a handful of sidekick activities thrown in for good measure. The LHF twists (pun totally intended) all that, and that’s the beauty of the festival taking place at The Etcetera Theatre in Camden. They take the horror genre to the theatre. No special effects, no sugar coating, no closing your eyes until that unsettling scene is over, and no “safe” distance between the stage and the audience (just to pump those adrenaline levels up).

Philip North, one of the festival’s producers from Hidden Basement Productions, explains how “they saw huge potential for the development of horror theatre as a genre in London and a lack of horror theatre being produced on a fringe level, and wanted to create a platform to encourage artists and companies to explore this and most of all to promote new writing in the horror field. The festival really is a unique event that supports smaller scale horror theatre and horror theatre in fringe venues.

Despite its offbeat nature (that I, of course, adore), the festival goes beyond attracting just the oddballs. Claire Soares makes it very clear: “It attracts everyone! People of all backgrounds. Horror and fear are such a primal emotion and touches us all, so anyone can access it and find something to their taste. We are not really looking to attract any specific audience as such – anyone who wants to experience something new!

Offering a terrifyingly eclectic mix of horror comedy, devil possession, psychological drama, mind reading and even a Zombie musical, there’s sure to be something for everyone at the London Horror Festival 2015!

– LHF2015 Press Release

LHF2015 – What You Need to Know

When: 11th to 30th October
Where: The Etcetera Theatre, Camden (265 Camden High St, London NW1 7BU)
How to Reach: Camden Town tube station. Walking distance.
Prices: Tickets start from £10 (except the playwriting competition final)
Can’t miss: “It’s Not What It Seems” – Playwriting Competition Final on the 12th October (Starts at 7pm. Costs £2), and the screening of “The Wicker Man”, a tribute to the late Sir Christopher Lee, on the 12th October (Starts at 9pm. Costs £10 for 1 ticket / £15 for 2).

This Year’s Full Programme

‘CELEBRATE HALLOWEEN EARLY’ HORROR CABARET
start time: 6pm | date: Sunday 11th October 2015 | £10 for 1 ticket / £15 for 2

Hosted by the incomparable Lucy Muck, join us for an evening of deliciously dark cabaret & performance acts that will entertain and disturb you in equal measure.
Featuring the terrifying talents of The Twins Macabre, Mary Beth Morossa, Peta Lily, Venus Raven and more TBA

‘IT’S NOT WHAT IT SEEMS’ – playwriting competition final
start times: 7 pm | date: Monday 12th October 2015 | £2

Come and experience the hottest new talent in horror writing, with performances of the three finalists of our short play competition, carefully selected from over 200 entries received from across the globe! With an exclusive prize for the overall winner and free giveaways for audience members – this is an evening of exciting new horror theatre not to be missed!

‘THE WICKER MAN’ (1973) – with live vocals by the Eversley Singers
start times: 9pm | date: Mon 12th October 2015 | £10 for 1 ticket / £15 for 2

We couldn’t have put this 5th London Horror edition together without including this: In tribute to the late, great horror legend Sir Christopher Lee, we present ’The Wicker Man’ enhanced by the eerie vocals of all female choir The Eversley Singers.

SANDMAN
start times: 7 pm | dates: Tuesday 13th – Sunday 18th October 2015 | £12 / £10
Company: Adie Mueller & Mike Carter

When Nathaniel, a student, is visited by a mysterious dread figure from the past, nobody can prevent his life from spiralling out of control… Inspired by E.T.A. Hoffmann’s gothic classic ‘The Sandman’ this unnerving solo piece of physical horror theatre will immerse you in an emotionally intense, thrilling nightmare world.

Age recommendation: 15+

THE DEVIL WITHOUT
start times: 9.30pm | dates: Tues 13th – Sun 18th October 2015 | £14 / £12
Company: Ian Harvey Stones

A 500-year-old Faust uses the audience to hide from his demonic pursuers. Audience interaction, magic, infrasound and illusion combine to bring a whole new immersive theatrical interpretation of the Faust legend inspired by the works of Neil Gaiman and Alan Moore.

You know that almost all demons are your own, right?

THE SHADOW OVER INNSMOUTH
start times: 7 pm | date: Monday 19th October 2015 | £10
Company: Hidden Basement Productions

On a frankly tedious architectural tour of the coastline, Robert Olmsted happens upon the
seaport of Innsmouth. What he discovers there will threaten his life, test his will and shatter his sanity. Hidden Basement brings a darkly comic realisation of this Lovecraft classic to the Horror Festival in a world premiere.

SLOW FADE TO BLEAK
start times: 9 pm | date: Monday 19th October 2015 | £10
Company: Casual Violence

Multi award winning sketch villains and stars of BBC Radio 4’s Sketchorama present a brand new hour of sketches. No narrative this time: just an experimental slice of silly, strange and sad new comedy from one of the UK’s most critically acclaimed sketch groups.

HOME FREE
start times: 7 pm | date: Tuesday 20th – Sunday 25th October 2015 | £12 / £10
Company: Theatrum Veritatus

A brother and sister have cut themselves off from the world “outside”, living in a cluttered playroom which they share with two imaginary companions. Surrounded by toys, they have created an atmosphere of almost suffocating intimacy and remove, where play becomes the business of life… But life intrudes all the same…

FRED STRANGEBONE’S FREAKSHOW
start times: 9 pm | date: Tuesday 20th – Sunday 25th October 2015 | £11 / £10
Company: Ben Whitehead

A horror comedy with a cast of grotesque, unsettling characters.

JERMAY PREDICTS!
start times: Midnight | dates: Fri 23rd & Sat 24th October 2015 | £16 / £14
Company: Luke Jermay

In this highly interactive show psychic entertainer, Jermay focuses his intuitive power on the future; YOUR FUTURE! An audience-driven show in which Jermay provides PERSONAL INTUITIVE READINGS & FUTURE PREDICTIONS for almost everyone in the audience! Let Jermay Predict what is in YOUR future.

PAYNE KILLER
start times: 7 pm | date: Monday 26th – Friday 30th October 2015 | £12 / £10
Company: The Uplifters

John Falkener is a dangerous psychopath, he enjoys torturing and killing women. Targeting his 7th victim, enigmatic widow Phyllis Payne, what at first appears to be a straightforward confrontation, becomes something more complex and revealing as the past of both characters are slowly uncovered in this darkly, comic thriller.

IDEOMOTOR
start times: 9 pm | date: Monday 26th – Friday 30th October 2015 | £12 / £10
Company: Gavin Innes

For centuries, people have used the Ouija board to help quench their thirst of the unknown: “Is there anybody there?” “What happens when we die?” “Have you seen my pet hamster?” A dark supernatural comedy about contacting spirits, unlocking secrets… and a missing hamster.

ZOMBIE WEEKENDS

BRAINS
start times: 2.30pm | date: Sat 17th & Sun 18th October 2015 | £12.50 / £11
Company: Two Box Productions

Two Box Productions brings you a brand new musical from the ‘Brains’ of Jax Braithwaite – a romzomcomsical the likes of which you’ve never seen. Prepare for laughter, tears, tantrums, high notes, harmonies and the apocalypse: a full-scale zombie musical from an unruly and often argumentative cast of four.

INFECTION
start times: 2.30pm | date: Sat 24th & Sun 25th October 2015 | £10
Company: Bath Street Productions

The infection’s widespread: ‘don’t get bitten.’ Dom, Will and Sam struggled being twenty-somethings, so how will they deal with an alien zombie apocalypse? They can throw film references at each other and kitchen utensils at the zombies, but will they run out of luck?

Make sure you don’t miss a thing and follow #LHF2015 on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.

Are you attending the LHF this year? Have you been to previous editions? What do you think about horror on stage? Share it with us on Facebook or Twitter. If you’re not much of a talker, follow us on Instagram and Pinterest for your daily dose of travel inspiration.

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