Gorgon: A Horror Story, a new audio-horror production, began life as part of the VAULT festival in an attempt to capture the sensation and gore of the turn of the century Grand-Guignol theatres of London and Paris. As further stage performances have been wrecked by the real-life horrors of COVID-19, the play has now been reborn online. Here, Emily-Anne “Elf” Lyons’ script seems less coherent, jumping fitfully about in terms of scenarios and characters while – as with the best of Amicus and Hammer films – sitting within an overarching framework. Nonetheless, other than an adolescently over-emphatic use of expletives and some shouting, the production is generally effective, built around a solidly camp central performance from the writer as an angsty and vengeful taxidermist and greatly enhanced by Molly Isaac’s superbly executed sound effects.
The story of ‘Gorgon’ and Isaac’s soundscape includes much for horror-geeks to enjoy and there are some genuinely unpleasant moments; new parents, in particular, will find some aspects of the plot particularly stressful. However, jump scares – which are so effective on screen and on stage – are less effective on the ear alone, amounting to little more than sudden, piercing screams, at best uncomfortable and at worst deafening for anyone listening on headphones.
Horror works best when it gets into your head and podcasts like ‘Knifepoint’ and Jonathan Sims’ ‘Magnus Archives’ have set the bar extraordinarily high. With ‘Gorgon’, Elf Lyons has made a promising attempt to match them.
Review by Louis Mazzini
Originally conceived as a live immersive horror, “Gorgon: A Horror story” sold out its first week-long run at the Vaults Festival and got some fantastic press coverage (see below in release).
It’s now been reimagined as a digital play designed to prey on the senses, using live sound with expert foley and horror tricks inspired by the gruesome Le Théâtre du Grand-Guignol’s famed Parisian naturalistic horror shows of the early 20th Century.
Gorgon: A Horror Story – a gore-filled horror story written by Elf Lyons, performed by Elf Lyons, Natalie Williams and David Hoskin. Sound foley and design by Molly Isaac.