Haunted by the fear of modern living.
Horror has always been one of the hardest things to introduce in a theatre setting, possibly because of how difficult it is to create jump scares, or create a truly terrifying enough monster to instil fear in audiences.
So perhaps the most effective types of scares these days come from the most innocuous of sources – the creeping, underlying sense of existential dread from living in a horrifying society that we just can’t shake off.
That’s something queer, feminist collective Gash Theatre has done with their newest project, Gash Theatre Gets Ghosted. Released digitally, the film features Gash girls Nathalie Ellis-Einhorn and Maddie Flint, as they find themselves literally trapped in a haunted house. Paying loving tribute to classic horror tropes and films, the two must find their way out of the house before it’s too late.
But make no mistake – the supernatural beings that haunt this house aren’t your average, run-of-the-mill ghosts and ghouls; instead, they find themselves besieged by possessed televisions playing old rom-coms, audio clips of Jigsaw (from SAW) telling them about the ‘game’, and at one point, a leather-clad, singing werewolf (one of the girls in monstrous drag).
The horror that these seemingly absurd monsters evoke comes not from their guise, but from the implications they hold about the patriarchal society we live in, where men are allowed to ‘possess’ women, the continued objectification of women (as talking armchairs or teapots), and quite simply, the terror of ever leaving this all behind.
The show itself is a heady, chaotic whirlwind of activity, as the action shifts rapidly from one scene to another, like a series of sketches. There is evident effort to push the abnormal to new heights, with each successive scene more over the top than the last, thanks to keenly detailed set design and installation. There is no shortage of homages to films from Poltergeist to Breakfast at Tiffany’s, to songs from the Ghostbusters theme and The Killers’ The Man, and energetic choreography and lipsync numbers.
It’s not an easy show to grapple with, primarily because of the sheer number of ideas going into it. But perhaps that is exactly the kind of madness Gash Theatre wants to muddle us with, in this crazy, macho macho world we live in, one where just being a woman makes you vulnerable and aware of these invisible, unspoken phenomena threatening to kill some part of you. By its end, the Gash girls make their heroic escape, but we can’t help but wonder – isn’t the world they’ve returned to just more of the same horrifying things they’ve experienced? That there, is the true horror of Gash Theatre Gets Ghosted.
Gash Theatre Gets Ghosted is available online. More information available here