I confess I’ve not seen many spoof gothic horrors (I’m kind of a wuss, and putting ‘spoof’ in the description, does not, in my experience, a blood and guts-free movie make). It’s all about to change, though, if Is That A Bolt In Your Neck? is a good indication of the genre’s standard.
I always enjoy myself at Bristol’s Tobacco Factory Theatre so I wasn’t worried before Monday night’s performance. Nonetheless I really wasn’t sure what to expect from what turned out to be a trio of versatile, animated, and talented performers who form the Gonzo Moose Company. My friend and I were giggling long before the end of the opening scene and the show was consistently funny from that moment on.
A self-consciously absurd gothic horror take-off, the play is thankfully more accessible than any such wordy summary. An archetypal mad scientist and his beautiful, intelligent daughter live in an ominous-looking house on the outskirts of their village, when an Oxford gentleman arrives to shake things up a bit. Of course, the village is awash with whisperings about what is really going on… though it’s the gargoyles that guard the old house who are the greatest gossipers! Spooky, anarchic, and physical, the plot was also unexpectedly moving, as a dance sequence involving the mad professor and his long-deceased wife turned out to be.
Slapstick, dance, magical illusion and inspired interaction with an effective set meant the play was visually compelling even without the verbal wit, live music, and surreal humour that accompanied the more physical side of things. The three actors handled over twenty characters and fast paced action with good humour and boundless enthusiasm, which meant the audience soon warmed to them – cheering when the odd mishap was overcome by in-character improvisation and, at times, brute force. The occasional piece of planned audience participation was equally well received, particularly one in which we found ourselves at the centre of a village AGM, inadvertently voting on how to handle these mysterious goings on, and the superb, melodramatic fanale was a fitting end to a thoroughly enjoyable piece of theatre.
It turns out Is That A Bolt In Your Kneck is my kind of spoof gothic horror. There’s a pleasing emphasis on the comedy, and no actual blood. I’ll be first in line for the next Gonzo Moose production and, though there’s rather more of the red stuff involved, I suppose Shaun of the Dead is on the cards for tonight’s entertainment.