Tales From The Woods – Theatre Upstairs – Review by Frances Winston
Theatre Upstairs, Lanigan’s Bar, Eden Quay, Dublin 1
Runs until November 7th
7pm Tuesday – Saturday with 1pm shows Wednesday – Saturday
Tickets: 10/8 concession (lunchtime tickets include light lunch)
Just in time for Halloween comes this spooky trilogy of tales set deep in the woods (hence the title). Written by three different writers – Gary Duggan, Kate Gilmore and Karl Sheils – each show also features a special guest regaling the audience with a terrifying tale meaning that you get quite a bit of bang for your buck here. The first tale is The Ballad of Ginny Fogarty which sees three girls daring each other to visit the house of the aforementioned Ginny who killed her baby several years back. Resembling a live action Japanese horror flick the three girls soon come to regret their decision.
In the second tale The Beast In the Woods, a young girl engages with a stranger whose car has broken down as she helps them find their way through the woods. Telling him about the dangers in the world as they travel you soon realise that the danger is closer to home than you think.
Lastly The Children That Played At Slaughtering sees two men being interrogated by the Plague Doctor as they try to prove they weren’t involved in the death of another man, or face certain death.
With a total running time of around an hour each play is short and snappy – more like standalone scenes than a full production. Director Karl Sheils has paced this well and interspersed the tales nicely. The main setting on the stage is a large tree with light bulbs attached to it which proves very effective creating both atmosphere and a useful prop in some cases. None of the actors feel overstretched even though a couple of them play dual roles and they all work well as an ensemble.
With an eerie voiceover linking all the stories and crisp autumn leaves all over the theatre floor and stage this sets the tone from the minute you walk in. You really feel a part of the woods and this helps suck you in from the off. It looks great and really does send a shiver down the spine and uses more fake blood than I have ever seen in a theatre production (at least I hope it was fake!) It’s completely appropriate for this time of year and will definitely get you in the Halloween spirit. The only problem with it is that while all the tales are engaging you will have your favourite and you will find that you would like to see more of that one. It would be nice to see these tales expanded to proper one act plays but for now they serve as a bite size theatre treat that is perfectly placed for the season that’s in it.