Halloween hit Huddersfield early this weekend, attracting ghosts and ghoulies and killer clowns galore into the Lawrence Batley Theatre for a Spooktacular take over by the paranormal. A mixture of regularly repeated short plays and walkabout experiences supported two singular main stage events, with a much-appreciated pie and peas supper available to the wandering fancy dress-clad audience.
The main stage production is a performance of Kwaidan by Rouge28 Theatre, a two-hand Japanese horror movie brought to life with a live actor and life-size puppets, a haunted set and a hair-raising musical score. While visually and technically impressive, with some good jump scares and beautiful moments, the show struggles somewhat with pacing and a predictable ending, leading to a feeling of having missed out on other ‘Happenings’ to sit through the 70-minute performance. Perhaps one better suited to a standalone viewing rather than as part of an already tightly timed event. Much better received is the midnight screening of Sing-Along-A-Wickerman hosted by Dr David Bramwell and Eliza Skelton, whose hilarious goody bag and sign based comments amp up the campy goodness of the 70’s classic for a fabulous end to the night.
Between the main stage performances there is much fun to be found, especially in the walkabout performances. One of the best of these is Splat Anatomy with Jim Bond and Liz Walker – a life sized game of Operation, complete with splashing blood, terrible puns and the ever-necessary electronic buzzing as players failed to remove the funny bone (covered in jokes of course). Also enjoyable is The Spectre Collector, a chance to get crafty with a steampunk adventurer who helps you trap your own good or bad spirit in a tiny glass bottle, and Messrs. Curzon, Carter and Taylor, whose bizarre magic, voodoo and psychic readings provide both entertainment and moments of genuine catharsis.
Overall Halloween Happening is a fun event, and an excellent way for adults to celebrate Halloween without getting funny looks begging pensioners for sweets. The audience members were clearly having a great time, and the effort made in people’s costumes makes it clear that this annual event is a much looked forward to part of the year for many. It is just unfortunate that so many probably excellent smaller performances have to be missed due to tight timings and an overly long main stage event in the middle. And with so many of these shorter one-offs running at the same or similar times, what should be a spontaneous night takes rather too much scheduling to make the most of. Next year, shorter shows please Lawrence Batley Theatre. Either way though, a highly successfully scary night – indeed, the audience members exiting after Wickerman are all planning 2018’s costumes already. Salmon of Wisdom anyone?
Reviewed on Saturday 28 October 2017 | Image: Contributed