REVIEW: The Pit and the Pendulum, Omnibus Theatre

Steve Peca paid a visit to the Omnibus Theatre to catch Creation Theatre Company’s production of Edgar Allan Poe’s classic tale. 

I was very excited to learn about a theatre I had never visited or even heard of when I was invited this week to the Omnibus Theatre in Clapham. The show that I was there to see was a reimagining of an Edgar Allan Poe story.

On that, I’ll be honest and say I don’t know the story this was based on, but I don’t think it mattered too much as it’s completely reimagined with a female protagonist, based in Iran, and focused on the modern topic of female empowerment and repression from a society controlled by conservatives and men. The topics are hard hitting, but mixed with humour to keep the story going. It concentrates on the plight of women in Iran and the general middle east and highlights issues of gender inequality in the area. It’s all very relevant and related to the modern liberal Me Too movement. There was only the one actress who played an unnamed woman (Afsaneh Dehrouyeh)  on stage, who carried the show all on her own.

The set was small, in the centre of the room, which kept an intimate feeling to the night. Meanwhile the  use of various LED light panels helped to tell the story, transforming into a well, and the red eyes of attacking rats for example. They were also used to effect when contrasting to modern stories such as Star Wars.

Audio was a big part of the show, and they used some nontraditional and effective effects. Everyone was given a set of earphones to wear during the show. The show played through these by having Afsaneh Dehrouyeh perform her parts with supplemented audio effects used in conjunction. For example, there was a great echoing effect used when she spoke into the well. The music and sound effects were used when needed, alongside with the dialogue of the second character, who was only ever heard.

Using the set and audio, the story took you through her imprisonment, reflecting on issues she encountered through her life. Some of the parts dragged on such as watching her obsess over the size of her prison. I suspect these relate to the story they are based on though, so maybe I was missing something (besides the obvious of her trying to take control of her situation). Her accent also added to the storytelling, as did use of made up words such as ‘ascared’, which added variety to the language.

Overall the show was engaging because of the great sound design and how the character was able to carry the show on her own. But some might find the need to read the original  Poe material to get a better understanding of it all as well.

By Steve Peca 
The Pit and the Pendulum will continue to play at the Omnibus Theatre until the 24th November. For more information visit:
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