Scream Queens Anonymous

Sat 25th February 2012

reviews

Julia Chapman

at 13:26 on 26th Feb 2012

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In a remote cabin in the woods, with electricity on the blink, phone lines disconnected, and the only exit blocked, six horror film heroines meet with every horror film cliché imaginable to create Scream Queens Anonymous, one of the funniest offerings at the Durham Drama Festival this year.

To help the six horror film heroines heal after having suffered their respective ‘ordeals’, Chris from 'The Exorcist' decides to set up a book club to discuss Madame Bovary. She invites Ann Darrow from 'King Kong', Marion from 'Psycho', Wendy Torrance from 'The Shining', Heather Donahue from 'The Blair Witch Project' and Ripley from 'Alien'. Then, naturally, one by one, the scream queens start dropping like flies.

The superb script was full of brilliantly crafted lines and the plot was seamless. James Morton deserves abundant plaudits for his writing. Hilarious clichés identified included a radio which only plays dramatic music at dramatic intervals, references to babysitters getting killed in their underwear, and other amusing quips about horror films such as Scream (when a Scream mask emerges, one character points out that it looks like something out of a horror film with too man sequels).

Hebe Beardsall’s very Mary-Kate interpretation of Ann Darrow was the perfect counterpoint to Rozi Prekop’s somewhat unnatural militaristic Ripley, and their rivalry was a highlight. It was Hannah Howie, however, as Wendy who captivated the audience and left us devastated at her death that we would have no more one-liners about deranged transvestites. I am reluctant, however, to dole out too much praise to any one actress, as almost all were fantastic, and must also be applauded for their (nearly) flawless American accents.

In order to prevent spoiling the ending, I will only say that the murderer is finally revealed in a brilliant scene which outlines her motives for killing off her fellow horror film survivors. As one scream queen gets ‘a second stab at the spotlight’ (similarly wonderful puns abounded throughout), her psychotic explanation was utterly hysterical. In both senses of the word. Credit must be given to Director Julia Loveless for her ability to make the fairly static setting of a living-room book club wildly captivating.

Scream Queens Anonymous is without a doubt one of the best pieces of new writing I have seen in a while. Funny, well-written, and overwhelmingly inventive, Scream Queens Anonymous beguiled from beginning to end.

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Rachel Racioppo

at 14:37 on 26th Feb 2012

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Written by the highly skilled James Morton, Scream Queens Anonymous tells the delightfully horrific tale of six horror movie heroines faced once again with the trepidation of death when their impromptu book club meeting goes awry.

Set in the living room of a remote house in the hills, Scream Queens features the female protagonists from some of Hollywood’s most acclaimed horror films including some of my personal favourites, 'The Exorcist', 'The Blair Witch Project', and 'Alien'.

Hebe Beardsall’s portrayal of 'King Kong’s Ann Darrow was slightly overdramatized at times, but overall decently executed. The same unfortunately can’t be said for Beardsall’s American accent, which wasn’t entirely sustained. As the play progressed however, I was able to suppress what appeared to be a Northern Irish/American hybrid and simply use my imagination.

Rozi Prekop played Alien’s sovereign protagonist Ellen Ripley with moderate proficiency. Her American accent was by far the strongest, as was her ability to project. But despite her obvious vocal dexterities, I couldn’t help but feel like an element of her performance was missing.

Hannah Howie’s Wendy Torrance (of 'The Shining') was ultimately the real showstopper; true to the character’s original cinematic routes and side-splittingly funny. The mess of black hair pilled atop her head was immediately reminiscent of Shelley Duvall’s signature coif, and the references she made to her particular film were among the funniest of the evening.

Suitably cast and formidably written, Scream Queens Anonymous truly is a diamond in the rough among modern day student theatre.

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