Frantic Assembly, Underworld

Review in Issue 13-2 | Summer 2001

The atmosphere at the Lyric Theatre was buzzing. The haunting pre-show music, the young and excited audience – expectations were high. The set was more reminiscent of a 70s American B-movie than one of Britain’s leading cutting-edge physical theatre companies – high 70s wallpapered flats, a bath half visible, a bed, a telephone…

The start of Underworld was phenomenal. Frantic Assembly’s trademark banging soundtrack, fast and furious exits and entrances from the four female performers, glimpses of them half seen in the shadows, legs flailing, arms reaching. The familiar shock tactics of your average horror film. Then begins a story of four girls staying for the weekend in a haunted house: one of them with an unprecedented fear of the telephone ringing – or so we think. Another obsessed with mobile phones and her unreliable boyfriend, another trying to pluck up courage to come out, another with a dark murderous side. They drink, gossip, dance and finally succumb to that familiar teenage pastime, the seance. Predictably the seance turns nasty and a secret emerges which terrifies them all – you have to see the show to find out what…

Underworld was familiar, easy to watch and predictable. The audience were passive observers of that oh-so-familiar world of horror. I’ll admit to being a little scared at times. The performers were all physically strong and the short bursts of ensemble movement were truly excellent. A tense and erotic fight to the death between two of the women, and the lifts in particular were brilliantly executed and exciting to watch. But overall Underworld was underwhelming and offered no new take on its subject matter. But maybe that was the point – the all-too-familiar.

Presenting Artists
Presenting Venue
Date Seen
  1. Mar 2001

This article in the magazine

Issue 13-2
p. 25