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Last Orders: The Haunting of The Old Red Lion | Review

Last Orders - The Haunting of The Old Red Lion
Last Orders – The Haunting of The Old Red Lion

We can’t be sure” is perhaps the most memorable line in Last Orders: The Haunting of the Old Red Lion, and it might be (I wasn’t keeping a tally) the most repeated one too. Everything in the show is a true recollection, whether dramatized or described or a mixture of the two, of the events of an overnight stay in the Old Red Lion pub, five minutes away from Angel London Underground station (and two of those minutes are spent waiting for the lights to change at a busy traffic light controlled junction). Well, everything except for certain bits that the cast are forced to admit were fabrications, which immediately (for me, at least) makes the whole thing that little bit more dubious – why is there a need to put in untruths at all? Or, more to the point in a theatrical production, why admit to them?

We start with that thing called ‘audience participation’, if you class a show of hands as audience participation: do you believe in ghosts, do you not, or do you sit on the fence? (If you really must know, your reviewer did not sit on the fence.) Reece Connolly, Christopher Keegan and Caroline Buckley are, respectively, enthusiastic, sceptical and uncertain, though it is telling that they have all lived to tell the tale in the first place. The tale in question is an investigation into paranormal activity at the Old Red Lion theatre (upstairs), pub (ground floor) and cellar. It’s an overnight job. To help them in this endeavour, they brought in Twilight Ghost Hunts, founded by Laura Goff, a team with a large amount of equipment at their disposal to detect spirits.

When a Ouija board was brought into play (for want of a better word), the team had apparently contacted someone who claimed to be a little girl, before Goff quickly deduced, they weren’t dealing with a frightened prepubescent after all. Other times the asserted photographic evidence was so faint on the projected screen it is no wonder the ‘we can’t be sure’ mantra was wheeled out as often as it was.

And then there was the part of the paranormal investigation carried out in total darkness – it is almost laughable that no infrared cameras were in use. Audio recordings must be taken for granted – or not, though admittedly that would involve not suspending disbelief at the theatre doors – and who’s to say, ultimately, that the recordings hadn’t been doctored in some way prior to this production?

There are some interesting stories about what has happened over the life of the Old Red Lion, which has been in the same place since 1415, right up to the modern day: productions who have hired the theatre have sometimes found their props have been inexplicably moved overnight (the place is, needless to say, securely locked each evening) or even disappeared. But I struggled to truly engage with this piece of theatre – not quite a play, not quite a neutral documentary style report either.

Perhaps it is simply that stories about ghost activity in theatres and historic buildings is really nothing new, and while the specifics in the narrative will be of interest to locals and to paranormal enthusiasts, there were moments when frankly I wished it was me in the British Library poring over centuries-old documents and newspaper clippings rather than listening to a brisk executive summary of other people’s miscellaneous findings. That said, this was a very pleasant cast that enjoyed a strong rapport with the audience throughout.

3 Star Review

Review by Chris Omaweng

Since 1415 The Old Red Lion has welcomed countless visitors through its doors, and some never left.
So we stayed overnight, turned on our cameras, pointed our microphones into the dark and asked ‘who’s there?’

In ‘Last Orders’ we present our findings – from the uncanny to the unnatural to the unexplainable – as more than 600 years of history clamours to be heard.

Combining traditional techniques like in-depth archival research and interviews with staff members past and present [including landlord Damien Devine, current artistic director Katy Danbury, and former AD Stewart Pringle], with the more outlandish – an overnight ghost hunt with professional paranormal investigators, and a séance – The Knock Knock Club have begun to knit together a colourful and chequered history of what is often alleged to be
London’s oldest public house.

Such an incredible and rowdy history has obviously birthed stories of myriad hauntings. The Knock Knock Club have been chasing whether these stories are more than just excitable gossip shared over a late-night pint with a mix of enthusiasm, cynicism, and derring-do.

In June this year they, along with longtime ghost hunter Laura Goff and her team at Twilight Ghost Hunts, conducted an overnight haunt in the building – theatre, pub, and cellar. Armed with a plethora of equipment and techniques, from the analogue [planchettes, automatic-writing, Ouija boards, mirror-scrying] to the more cutting- edge [spirit boxes, laser grids, temperature guns, and night-vision cameras], they set out to communicate with – and maybe even capture evidence of – any phenomena that could be classed as ‘paranormal’. The data they collected – the things they saw and heard and experienced that night – proved every bit as strange and divisive as they could’ve hoped.

This October they will unveil their research in their production of Last Orders: The Haunting of the Old Red Lion,
with a healthy dose of theatricality. It promises to be a thrilling and fascinating show for true believers and
dedicated doubters alike – that is, if you dare to join them…

Warning: participation in our final experiment is at volunteers’ own risk.

THE KNOCK KNOCK CLUB PRESENTS
LAST ORDERS
THE HAUNTING OF THE OLD RED LION

THEY SAY THIS PLACE IS HAUNTED.
VERY HAUNTED.
SO WE DECIDED TO SEE FOR OURSELVES.

Playing as part of the London Horror Festival 2019
Suitable for ages: 15+
Trigger warnings: Features communication with the beyond
Warning: Features smoke and flashing lights
Running time: 70 minutes (no interval)

Tuesday 8th – Saturday 26th October 2019
https://www.oldredliontheatre.co.uk/

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