DramaNorth WestReview

Something Terrible Might Happen – The Lowry, Salford

Writer/Director: Uncanny Theatre

Reviewer: Lizz Clark

They say that there’s nothing to fear but fear itself – and spiders, of course. But what is fear really like, how does it shape and control us, and why? These are the questions that Matt, Ben, Matthew and Natalie of Uncanny Theatre explore in Something Terrible Might Happen, a grab-bag of ideas and experiments on the theme.

Not a show for the faint-hearted, it’s interactive from the start, and the cast quickly get up close and personal. One of the first segments features a childhood game, but with Ben’s crouching, naked body as a prop. Later we all play knock-a-door-run, hiding as the homeowner looks for the culprit. And ‘researcher’ Matthew asks us questions throughout. Those who dislike being ‘picked on’ should stay away, as nobody is safe from the tasks and games. At times, one audience member will even be asked to choose another to take part.

While the intimate style of involvement provokes an adrenaline rush, there’s more than just the fear factor to this show. It’s also very funny. The performers coax us into ever more unusual tasks, including a bizarre scene where Ben’s issues with his father are played out by proxy: we all end up humming him a comforting tune as he cradles an audience member on his knee. It’s like being tickled, uncomfortable yet hilarious. The cast even manage to whip up some humour when the picked-on people are reluctant or shy. When a man asked for suggestions doesn’t come up with much, Natalie turns the scene into an uproarious improvisational free-for-all with her talent for physical comedy.

There are moments of seriousness, too, although some are more meaningful than others. Performers’ personal anecdotes may be delivered off-the-cuff for a sense of truthfulness, but often end up feeling awkward and weak rather than spontaneous and genuine. However, there’s a beautiful part involving four audience members, who are asked a long list of questions about what they fear. Seeing four strangers weigh up questions like “Are you afraid of terrorism? Are you afraid of losing a friend?” is simple yet meaningful, and even moving. Some things may divide us, but there are some things that we all fear.

Perhaps the show is supposed to make us think about our own relationship with fear, but between all the laughter, dancing, props, nudity, and people being hit with giant rolls of bubble-wrap, it’s hard to draw out a deeper meaning. However, this chaotic ride of a show is enjoyable – for brave theatregoers who don’t mind being involved in the action.

Reviewed on 18 May 2017

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