Tuesday, September 11, 2018





Jakop Ahlbom Company. Canberra Theatre. Canberra Theatre Centre. Tuesday September 11 to Saturday September 15. 2018 Bookings 6275 2700


Reviewed by Peter Wilkins

Concept and Direction
 Jakop Ahlbom
Judith Wendel
Douwe Hibma, Jakop Ahlbom, Remco Gianotten (assistant)
Music Design
Wim Conradi with Bauke Moerman
Costume Design
Esmee Thomassen, Kyra Wessel (assistant)
Special props and Make-up
Rob Hillenbrink
Make-up and Hair Work
Nienke Algra
Lighting design
Yuri Schreuders
Tom Vollebregt, Prem Scholte Albers, Yuri Schreuders, Allard Vonk, Michel van der Weijden, Alfred van der Meulen
Luc van Esch, Yannick Greweldinger, Andrea Beugger, Silke Hundertmark, Sofieke de Kater, Gwen Langenberg, Thomas van Ouwerkerk, Reinier Schimmel


“Oh no!!!” cries an audience member as blood spurts from the mouth of a character in Jakop Ahlbom’s tribute to horror classics such as The Shining and Oculus. “Cool” says another as a character in Horror instantly disappears from a couch. Gasps can be heard as chairs move by themselves, a dismembered hand crawls crablike across the stage, pictures move upon the wall, a body levitates before disappearing in a single sweep of the hand and the music blares from a tape deck while images flash upon a television screen.
Gwen Langenberg as the Eldest Sister in Horror
Throughout it all are the elements of sheer horror – the blood , the violence, the strange sounds, the weird Gothic figures of a dark and sinister past and the innocents, unwittingly caught up and transformed into symbols of fear and horror. Film and theatre map out a bizarre chronicle of a young girl’s return to an austere and fearful parental home where an horrific event occured. B Grade movie merges with an impeccably produced sensation of effects, brilliantly staged choreography and riveting action. past and present coalesce in flashback and realtime while walking dead and disgorged entrails summon the spectres of gut-churning terror.

The narrative is striking in it simplicity and yet complex enough to challenge an audience to unravel  Three figures appear at the outset.  One is the youngest sister of the family that lived in the house. Through a scrim we meet the austere and violent father, the forbidding mother and the tortured sister, desperate to dispel the shackles of grim authority. In the tradition of Victorian repression and Gothic bleakness, Horror is an indictment of oppressive will, as powerfully relevant today.

Silke Hundertmark as the Youngest Sister in Horror
Ahlbom’s company creates a distinctly European visual impact. His direction is measured and detailed, meticulously paced and deliberate in its perfectly timed instances of suspenseful anticipation or impulsive revulsion. His actors master the disciplines of mime, acrobatics, timing and dance with astounding precision. Yannick Greweldinger’s struggle with his uncontrollable hand is a feat of masterful physical theatre. Silke Hundertmark’s battle with the male forces of sexual and physical  oppression is an acrobatic phenomenon.  Cheers erupt from the audience as she triumphantly vanquishes her assailants.  Good must always triumph over evil, but only through victory  by ordeal.

Horror is more a fantasy playground than a shocking and terrifying journey into the dark recesses of private fears and harboured terrors. It is at times suspenseful, highlighted by Wim Conradi and Baeke Moerman’s sound design. At other times, the sudden appearance of the ghoulish, elder sister can appear comical or titters can be heard as the bloody handless stum is revealed. Fascination holds the moment as magical effects  defy explanation.

In the tradition of the horror genre we are bathed in the cathartic realization that horror happens to others, and it is in the secure belief in our own detachment that we revel in the misfortunes of others. It is why Ahlbom’s production is so entertaining, at times macabrely funny and thoroughly engrossing in its execution.

Horror is a masterpiece of design in which all elements combine with intentional perfection to create  a night at the theatre that will while away an entertaining  eighty minutes , rather than send shock waves through the body . Performances by the largely Dutch trained  ensemble of actors are faultless , the design elements atmospherically evocative, the tricks a sleight of hand treat and Ahlbom’s direction strategically manoeuvred, but on a large proscenium stage Horror lacked a  more visceral impact. For fans of the genre, Horror promises  a nostalgic trip down memory lane and a rare opportunity to share in Ahlbom's fantasy of fear.