Theatre / Reviews

Review: The Stick House, The Loco Klub

By bristol247, Saturday Sep 12, 2015

The Stick House is far from a traditional theatrical performance. It is an immersive experience which plunges the audience full-bodied into a discombobulated Grimm fairytale world. 

The story is a simple one: a classic East European folk-tale blend of beasts, villagers and forests, where the supernatural and a sense of evil lurk in the dark places; a story of desperation and claustrophobia.

But this production is not primarily about the story.

Staged in subterranean vaults beneath Temple Meads station, untouched for 70 years, it provides an utterly unparalleled display of inventiveness and creativity in its staging.

With the aid of magical technology and a stunning level of inventiveness, designer Conor Murphy and director Anna Ledwich have created a dreamscape made real, a complete world which wraps itself around the audience as they move from one space to another.

The Stick House may have its flaws, but the extraordinary imagination and impressive execution of this fantastical environment for both actors and audience make this event unmissable. 

There is a high level of audience engagement. We are far from being passive, distanced onlookers as the actors twist and turn their way between our bodies, inviting us to participate in the story.

Chistopher Elson’s Hobbledeboy circles through the crowd, peering into faces, seizing arms, enrapturing as he paints word pictures with his part-Yiddish, part-jabber patter.

And there are moments when the audience make spontaneous decisions about what they’re going to do, which means that every night will be slightly different.

Following Insane Root’s production of Macbeth in Redcliffe Caves, this is Bristol’s second successful subterranean promenade production this year: these are good times for going underground.

The Loco Klub – the new venue from the people who brought you Carnyville at the Old Fire Station – promises to be an exciting haunt for Bristol’s ever-fertile alternative arts scene.

In a season already rich with unique artistic experiences in Bristol – Dismaland and Arcadia – The Stick House needs to be added to the roster of this year’s ‘must see’ events.

It is theatre like you’ve never experienced before.

The Stick House is at the Loco Klub until October 17. For tickets and more information, visit www.raucous.org.uk/whats-next

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