Reviewer: David Doyle
Horror traditionally never works on stage but Zanetti Productions have managed to capture the eerie core of many horror movies in their mysterious thriller nestled in the basement of Summerhall. Billed as Twin Peaks meets Serial, the show centres on a young woman as she clears a basement of her grandmother’s belongings following her death. Naturally things veer off course in a splendidly constructed, chilling show that defies easy categorisation.
A hit of the New Zealand theatre circuit, it is clear to see why this show has held such appeal. Largely performed by Stella Reid and a voice on the eponymous tapes, the show is on the face of it a simple one. However the success of it lies in the skill with which the piece is constructed. Absorbing sound design from Thomas Lambert and a wonderful central performance raise the piece above many others. The immersive setting in the basement of Summerhall is another reason for the success of the piece in undoubtedly helping to create the eerie quality that engulfs the audience.
Unnerving from the earliest moments, the piece never goes where you expect and this quality of a constantly shifting narrative combined with a quiet humour is what makes the piece so riveting. While The Basement Tapes doesn’t break much new ground, it is a wonderful distillation of good theatre making. A clever script, an ability to grab the attention of the audience throughout, a great performance, and an ability to constantly morph are central to making this show such a success and it is clear why audiences are flocking to see The Basement Tapes.
Runs until 26 August 2018 | Image: Andi Crown