On a cold and blustery early-winters night, I ventured forth into West End, seeking out that evenings Anywhere Festival entertainment. After finding warmth in Ecclectica Esoteric Books and Curiosities on Boundary Street, I waited patiently for Lights Out Vol. 1 to begin.
I’m not sure what I expected from this performance, however I was keen to experience the show’s journey back to an era where Christmas was a time to tell stories of the unusual, unseen, and the bizarre around the hearth.
Unfortunately, the burb on the website was really all the contextual information I received about the show. After we were ushered into a small room set up at the back of the shop, the audience were told that during the following 70 minutes ‘the family’ would regale us with Victorian ghost stories. The concept of Christmas was not acknowledged and the story of who the family actually were was not extended beyond the perfunctory introductions. This shallow grounding hampered the framework of the play and the character development that unfolded over the 70 minutes, allowing it to be basic at best.
Despite these negative aspects, I still found Lights Out Vol. 1 to be quite enjoyable. I was pleased with the range of stories told and especially with the way they were delivered. The actors were adept at using a range of accents and employed excellent tone, enunciation and volume. The latter was most welcome as there appeared to be either stampeding elephants or a dance class occurring upstairs.
The intimate setting was well laid out with the accoutrements of a Victorian sitting room, complete with a requisite hearth. They evoked the atmosphere of an old gothic mansion to effect. Here I must also commend the decision to stage the play at the Ecclectica bookshop as it really provided the perfect backdrop.
Also well employed were the various effects of music, sound and props. Their use heightened the drama at crucial moments and scared quite a few of us in the audience.
Overall, Lights Out Volume 1. is a well-intentioned play. Once I got over the issue of context, I could see the show for what it really was: a creepy but fun re-imagining of the Victorian era and its penchant for supernatural story telling.
Reviewed by Ashleigh Wadman
This review is based on the reviewer’s experience of the performance on May 13.