REVIEW: Tumulus, Soho Theatre

This fast paced thriller packs a lot into an hour – but can feel as though it is trying to put too many ideas into it that ends up making it seem rough around the edges.

(c)Darren Bell.

Razor sharp, engaging and intelligent, there is certainly plenty to enjoy in Christopher Adams’ thriller that effectively explores issues such as addiction and loneliness as the story of an unexplained death unfolds.

Anthony is a thirty year old man who enjoys chemsex parties – until one day one of his partners George is found dead on a mound in a London Park. While the police assumes it is simply a GBL overdose, Anthony is confronted by George’s ghost to discover the truth behind his death.

With plenty of twists and turns along the way, through Christopher Adams’s engaging script takes audiences on a surprisingly chilling and haunting story of addiction, guilt and essentially loneliness as seen through the eyes of a deeply flawed character who wants to atone for his past mistakes. While the story has been sharply and vividly written, it feels as though there is still further room for development to really highlight and explore the issues that feel only slightly casually explored in places.

There is also a slight issue with the use of humour in the script. While the lines are brilliantly witty, it does feel that the humour can trivialise and detract from the story slightly too much.

However, despite this there is much to be enjoyed about Matt Steinberg’s atmospheric and cleverly executed production that thoroughly grips the audiences attention from start to finish. The way in which sound effects are used and created by cast members and Nick Manning’s sound design wraps itself around the audience to draw them further into this dark and dangerous world is extraordinarily effective.

Equally impressive are the way in which Ian Hallard and Harry Lister Smith transform themselves into a wide variety of characters, with the birthday party scene proving to be a real highlight that captures this well. Every character change is wonderfully smooth, never disrupting the flow of the production. Meanwhile, Ciaran Owens convey’s Anthony’s growing determine to get to the bottom of the mystery as well as highlighting the character’s own insecurities and struggles vividly. It is an eye catching performance, that shows him coming into his own in the intense final scene that keeps the audience on the edge of their seat.

Wonderfully gripping and intense, Tumulus has plenty to recommend it – even if it does feel rough around the edges with certain issues that deserve to be explored further in a longer piece. It is still a sharp and engaging production that never allows the attention of its audience to wonder at all.

By Emma Clarendon

Tumulus continues to play at the Soho Theatre until the 4th May.

Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐

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