Pipe Dream Company, Home Haunted

Review in Issue 13-2 | Summer 2001

In this, its second stint at Hoxton Hall, the Pipe Dream Company has made a loose adaptation of Hitchcock’s noir movie The Lady Vanishes, and turned it into an evening of text, video projection, slides and live music. This combination should have been pretty potent, and there are certainly some seeds of good ideas here. The use of picture postcards of London as projected backdrops for brief encounters works really well, and they look very beautiful in the space. The projections from the Hitchcock film also bring something ethereal and rather appropriately haunting to the mise-en-scene.

Parts of the show reminded me of some of the work of Robert Lepage, especially an opening sequence of silhouetted figures moving frantically through a rainy street against a rich red backdrop, and the whole production was very reminiscent – in its intention at least – of the noir-inspired works of Pete Brooks and Insomniac Productions from a few years back. (Both Lepage and Brooks share the Pipe Dream Company’s interest in the connections between theatre and film.)

Held against these earlier explorations of ‘noir theatre’, though, Home Haunted is ultimately rather lacking. This is not least because of some of the very weak performers in the show, and because of the use of recorded voice-over and monologue to drive the narrative (really more of a trundle than a drive). It is always hard to engage an audience with a load of text, and unless it is performed really charismatically it rarely works. It didn’t work here.

The strongest part of the show was the live music performed on cello and saw, which set a tone that the rest of the production just didn’t live up to. With a real shift of the gears from first to fifth, a development of some of the lovely visual ideas, and a bit of prudent re-casting, this show could develop into something very interesting. As it is, I found myself more intrigued by Hoxton Hall itself than by a story onstage that failed to grip me – unlike a Hitchcock film – in any way at all.

Presenting Artists
Presenting Venue
Date Seen
  1. Apr 2001

This article in the magazine

Issue 13-2
p. 25 - 26