Review: The Thing That Came From Over There
(Live review https://theatreroyal.com/news-and-blogs/)
Back in Business with a Bang!
What a year it’s been, and what a way to welcome everyone back to our beloved TRP The Thing That Came From Over There is.
Although the world remains very different, and the subdued, scaled-back theatre experience lacks the frolicking, carefree, crowd-heavy buzz the typical festive season brings, tucked away, socially distanced, of course, in a Covid safe space, the vivacious energy of days gone by has sparked back to life once more.
But, if you’re looking for a subtle, understated, highbrow return to theatre life then The Thing That Came From Over There is not the show for you. However, if you’ve missed belly laughs and the wildly unique, imaginative alternate realities The Drum is so utterly renowned for, then join Captain Reginald Cranston Scot-t-t, his useless tinfoil suit, and band of intrepid explorers as they inadvertently save the world from an undiscovered evil that crashes to earth - parasitic flesh eating worms and all - on Christmas Eve 1912.
The small cast of three, Mark Dawson, Alys Torrance and Ben Whitehead, execute the big job of portraying 15 memorable characters, each distinguishable through fumbling hat changes, the odd knitted beard here and there, and several dodgy accents. And how they convincingly convey the 1950s horror/sci-fi movie vibe through the use of a few well placed crates, some large white sheets, an 80s style projector and screen, and a bucket load of unrelenting energy is extraordinary.
From start to finish, they weave oddball comedy, clever characterisation and high energy, washed down with multi layered cultural references and bonkers wise cracks. The seamless clumsiness of each character and set transition is perfectly practiced and timed. Giving the illusion of hapless, bumbling fools is a challenge to master, but this trio have fine tuned their buffoon laden routine to perfection, clearly enjoying every minute they’re on stage.
As the story progresses, the sense of foreboding grows larger, and the ravenous unseen danger becomes more pressing. One by one each character is tragically picked off until just three remain, facing not only the stuff of extraterrestrial nightmares, but also themselves, before the heroic Scot-t-t stares down the monstrous stuff of legends.
Flash forward to the 21st century, and our modern world rife with misinformation: the show, despite being created long before the sci-fi esque times of Covid 19’s pithy slogans and 5G conspiracy theories, fittingly skirts over themes eerily appropriate for 2020; even touching on the we all ‘know nothing’ Socratic philosophy, albeit it in a madcap manner that’ll probably leave you more confused than the famous philosopher ever intended.
The Thing That Came From Over There runs until 27th December, meaning there’s plenty of time to enjoy this alternative Christmas delight, savour being back in our happy place and witness these incredibly talented people do the thing they love the most: entertain and inspire us.