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Gorgon: A Horror Story

Reviewer – Dominic Corr

Writer and Director: Elf Lyons

Vile. Revolting and a glorification of senseless violence and retribution – every second of Elf Lyons’ Gorgon: A Horror Story is a sensational splendour of astute sound design, macabre imagery and strikingly well-crafted drama; a brilliant audio adaptation of the stage play which loses little of its venomous satirical bite. A tale of sadism, scorched flesh, mysterious disappearances and abusive relationships, award-winning theatre-maker Elf Lyons sinks her teeth into the sinew of our obsessive craving for serial killings, murder, and death.

Masquerading, raw horror has something lurking beneath the gnarled and twisted flesh of the exterior; a soft, quivering underbelly beneath the armour of disgust and terror. Gorgon: A Horror Story is specifically crafted to merge the mundane with the grotesque, to demonstrate that monsters are never born but created. There is never redemption for the actions perpetrated, nor should there be, but there’s a certain level of satisfaction, and dare we say revelry, for the humorous comeuppances of select individuals. And all told with a deliciously twisted smirk of comedy.

Traumatic past relations with a god-mother, an abusive control freak of a boyfriend and the flatmate from hell – it’s little wonder Diana struggles and finds the company of taxidermy animals more appealing than most humans. All save one, her younger sister Freyja. The pair share the unlikeliest of quirks – glowing yellow eyes, alluring yet dangerous, which stand out in the darkness. Diana’s life becomes more frantic after her usually close sister begins to drop contact.

Searching for her sister Freyja, Diana becomes more determined and manic. In her hunt the narrative threads begin to intertwine as an even more morbid shadow casts across the overall story as the audio drama transitions from the present moment to the events leading up to the women we have today. Layered, some points feel underdeveloped and occasionally remove us from the momentum – but we come to realise these are seeds to flourish later into the narrative.

Lyons brings unhinged energy to the production, an amalgam of all the triggers and warnings the horror movies shared, but sincerity as a sister and woman. There’s a split dynamic, a Tobe Hooper fascination with tanning and taxidermy mingles with the intricacies and sisterhood of Grecian Gorgons Medusa, Stheno & Euryale. The unnerving manner in which Lyons and Natalie Williams address one another as sisters echoes with the similar adoration they share when discussing the scintillating skin of a victim is enrapturing in detail. It all plays into the bloodied hands of a talented horror fanatic writer, with a technique that plums the depths of lyrical language to match horrific imagery.

Lyons’ script even manages a swipe at the growing obsessive and desensitised manner of true-crime podcasts, serials, and endless Netflix specials. Murder has always been marketable, but perhaps now we’ve found the shelves overstocked. The multitude of humorous moments in her writing takes audiences by surprise, as they find themselves whirlwinded from disgust to intrigue and hilarity.

It’s complicated to replicate the gripping stare of the Gorgon through audio, but Lyons manages this effortlessly. With a resounding successful adaption, principally at the hands of Isaac’s auditory manipulation, Gorgon: A Horror Story toys with the perceptions of the genre and preys on the senses of expectations.

It’s relatively easy to leave fear in the eyes, but it’s an artform to defile the ears in such a resonating fashion. In transitioning to the audio format, sound designer and foley artist Molly Isaac understands the necessity to push the boundaries of audio design, to challenge the expectations. If by the production’s conclusion you haven’t felt ill or squirmed at least once – perhaps there’s a bit of the monster within you?

Released here on 15 March 2021

The Reviews Hub Score

Pushing boundaries

The Reviews Hub - London

The Reviews Hub London is under the acting editorship of Richard Maguire. The Reviews Hub was set up in 2007. Our mission is to provide the most in-depth, nationwide arts coverage online.

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