It’s … ALIVE! The UK’s biggest festival of live horror performance is resurrected for its 8th year. The London Horror Festival continues to grow to evermore monstrous size with help from their sponsor, Horror Channel. This year it returns to the Old Red Lion Theatre with over 30 productions to curdle your blood, chill your spine, and split your sides. For four weeks this Halloween season, theatre-goers will be subjected to shocking experimentations in drama, comedy, musicals, and spoken word.
On this portentous year they honour the grand matriarch of Gothic horror, Mary Shelley. She serves as the inspiration for the theme of their annual playwriting competition (“Women in Horror”), which continues to galvanise new talent and sets the festival in motion on the 7th October. On its 200th anniversary, they reanimate her most enduring creation, Frankenstein, with three new productions. Witness Frankenstein as never before: gender-bent by Burn Bright Theatre in their female-led retelling; frozen in the Antarctic wilderness by Two-Body Problem’s chilling contemporary continuation of the story; defiled by Fred Strangebone, who returns to put his twisted spin on Shelley’s classic.
This year, the festival is teeming with monsters spanning the canon of classic horror, including a selection of Werewolf stories sure to satiate your appetite. You’ll be in good company with Werewolf: Live, a comedy game show fresh from Edinburgh Fringe. The award-winning Big Bad blends powerful feminist narrative with a dash of lycanthropy. Finally, seeing in the Werewolf Weekend is The Wolves of Erin, bringing you high-stakes cabin fever.
The festival is proud to deliver a programme that pushes the limits of live performance. ‘Choose-your-own’ horror, The Teind asks participants to pick their own poison as they interact with characters via social media, phone, and email over the course of three weeks, before meeting one of the characters in person.
The clock strikes twelve for this year’s late-night show, Midnight Horror from Chamber Piece Theatre. And What’s the Bloody Question! is back for another episode in camp panel show hijinks.
The end of the festival coincides with the Mexican Dia de Los Muertos (Day of the Dead) celebrations. To mark the occasion, they will summon three productions from beyond the grave, going out with a bang on the 3rd November.
The full line up of shows …
Sunday 7th October, 7pm
Women In Horror Playwriting Competition Winner
The LHF continues to support emerging horror theatre talent with their annual playwriting competition. This year, in celebration of the 200th Anniversary of the publication of Frankenstein by horror icon Mary Shelley, the theme is Women in Horror. Dozens of entries have been received from across the UK and the winning play will be performed as a rehearsed reading, to launch the opening night of the London Horror Festival 2018.
Sunday 7th October, 9:30pm
Want to rid your life of fear? Then let renowned psychologist, Dr. Greenwood help. She promises there’s nothing to be afraid of… A one-woman motivational talk turned sour, Fear Itself is like a cross between a TED talk and Ghost Stories. From Les Enfants Terribles Award Nominees, Danse Macabre Productions.
Monday 8th – Wednesday 10th October, 7pm
Fred Strangebone’s Frankenstein … in the bin
Fred Strangebone has created a monster… Inspired by the greatest horror story of all time with assistance from a grotesque, buffoon and the contents of a very disturbing dustbin!
A Horror show with character comedy, clowning and delightful unpleasantness.
Monday 8th October, 9:30pm
A brand new comedy game show fresh from Edinburgh Fringe, Werewolf: Live sees favourite comedians lie, manipulate and backstab as they try to uncover the murderous werewolves. Past guests include Marcus Brigstocke, Nish Kumar, Laura Lexx, Stevie Martin, and Alex Edelman. Expect chaos.
Tuesday 9th – Thursday 11th October, 9:30pm
Welcome to a world where the Ministry of Justice has been privatised and you – the audience – become jury. You hold lives and destinies in your hands, and your votes are what determines what follows.
Like Black Mirror with a pinch of Monty Python; it’s dystopian, twisted, and a great night out.
The story begins: Wednesday 10th October
Final meetings: Friday 26th – Sunday 28th October
The Teind is an interactive theatrical journey that offers an intensely immersive experience. A personalised horror story, just for you. This unique choose-your-own-adventure unfolds over three weeks. Remember, choices count. Ask questions. Seek clues. Prepare for your final meeting. Where will your story lead you?
Thursday 11th – Saturday 13th October, 7pm
Happily Never After
The Maydays have been gathering an army of fans around the world with their exceptional talent for creating skin-prickling theatre from nothing; dazzling audiences with their hugely popular and deliciously dark Tim Burton inspired musical tale. Created from a single audience suggestion, The Maydays weave a playful tale, full of bone chilling black comedy and haunting songs, in this loose homage to the cult director’s gothic style, layered with influences from the Brothers Grimm.
Friday 12th October, 9:30pm
Lovers of scary stories, unite. Adding the fear factor to increasingly popular spoken word nights, storytellers from across the Horrorfest and beyond will share their worst (or should that be best?) nightmares at Blackshaw’s fourth annual Scare Slam. Prepare yourself for a night of chilling tales from both sides of the line of veracity.
Saturday 13th October, 3pm & 9:30pm
Sunday 14th October, 3pm
Pickman’s Model by H. P. Lovecraft
The Other Realm brings Lovecraft’s classic short story to the stage. Pickman is an artist of extraordinary talent, but his gruesome paintings are born of a terrible secret. A dark and shocking tale that reveals the boundary between an artist’s genius and insanity.
Sunday 14th October, 7pm
Italian Horror Stories
Italian Horror Stories explores the Italian historical facts and legends that inspired gothic classics such as Dracula, Frankenstein and the Woman in Black. The show is divided into vignettes emceed by a devilish storyteller, the Prince of Darkness, who will lead the audience in an intriguing journey through ancient horrors.
Sunday 14th October, 9:30pm
Sunday 21st October, 9:30pm
Chaos reigns. April (“Positive Thinking guru for the YouTube generation”) is here to help us take back control. Together, we can manifest something greater than ourselves. Follow her.
Monday 15th – Tuesday 16th October, 7pm
Crocodile tells the story of Alan and Jane and their daughter Sarah, who is a crocodile. Winner of a Highly Commended Award at VAULT Festival 2017, Joe Eyre’s dark, surreal, and horrifying comedy Crocodile returns this October.
Just when you thought it was safe to go back in the water…
Monday 15th October, 9:30pm
Who Put Bella in the Wych Elm?
Desperately trying to piece together the warning signs surrounding his alienated son Dean, Russell Proust dives further and further into reliving the mess his son has made. Hiding in a storm drain in the Nebraskan woods, he begins to see the extent of his neglect. Too bad it’s too late.
Tuesday 16th – Wednesday 17th October, 9:30pm
Saturday 27th October, 9:30pm
On Your Head Be It: A Cautionary Tale
All he wanted was a quiet weekend away, but someone forgot to pack the bin bags. All happy couples have a hobby. Eleanor and Stuart’s? Homicide. And when a local cabbie spoils their romantic weekend away, Eleanor knows exactly how to take her revenge.
Wednesday 17th – Thursday 18th October 2017, 7pm
It’s not easy being a werewolf in London in the 21st century…
Big Bad explores the themes of imprisonment, resistance, and sexuality within a feminist narrative in this blackly comic, supernatural horror with BITE!
Don’t we all like an excuse to be bad?
Thursday 18th – Saturday 20th October, 9:30pm
When tragedy strikes Elizabeth Frankenstein’s household, a dangerous obsession takes hold. But crossing the boundary between life and death comes with a terrible price.
Featuring Burn Bright Theatre’s trademark brand of ensemble theatre, puppetry and live music, ideas of gender and power are brought to life in a critically-acclaimed new retelling of history’s greatest horror story.
Friday 19th – Sunday 21st October, 7pm
The Wolves of Erin
Northern Ireland, 1983. Full moon. A British soldier separated from his unit in an ambush takes shelter in a barn. Under the light of the full moon, fears grow that one of his companions for the night is a werewolf. A folk-horror, dark comedy of Catholic, Protestants and werewolves.
Stack 10 Theatre return to the London Horror Festival following previous hits The Wicker Hamper (LHF 2016) and Waking the Walking Dead (LHF 2017)
Saturday 20th – Sunday 21st October, 3pm
Do Not Remove This Book: Three Tales of Terror From the Satanic Library
Anna Savory; sole heir of Dennis Wheatley’s occult reference library, is back with the books! Take her gloved hand and let her guide you through three new tales from the dark heart of the library in terrible (but hilarious) detail. An Amicus-inspired portmanteau of comedy, storytelling and fear.
Monday 22nd October, 6:30pm
MAGIC CIRCLE Written by Kim Newman
In Calme Manor, a protective chalk circle has been drawn. Inside sits Professor Cutley, trendy academic and occultist. Outside stands Inspector Gammell, a rational detective with an unsolved case on his books and a suspect in his sights. Tonight, both men will seek answers to mysteries vast and colossal…
Monday 22nd – Tuesday 23rd October, 9:30pm
Join the merry macabre Miss Sylvia Sceptre for a Victorian adventure among the spirits. Audiences will be laughing and shivering in equal measure as Sylvia performs spooky mindreading and Victorian Spirit Theatre. Does she possess the gift of second sight or is it just female hysteria? Sylvia is a character created by performance artist and member of The Magic Circle, Careena Fenton.
Tuesday 23rd – Wednesday 24th October, 7pm
Hubert Is Very Dead
Sisters Clarice and Gertie fear the impossible: their brother Hubert – killed years previously in a childhood game gone wrong – has returned from the dead. Whether ghost, revenant, or something more sinister, now Hubert wants to play some games of his own…
A comically ink-black corkscrew of a play – served cold.
Wednesday 24th – Thursday 25th October, 9:30pm
Mistress to the Midnight
A live stage spoof of classic British horror films: an unsuspecting gentleman is drawn to a house of promises unkept and bodies disinterred. The clocks are ticking, a woman is waiting and the baby’s been crying in the cellar for decades…
An evening guaranteed to be thrilling, chilling and funny as hell.
Thursday 25th – Friday 26th October, 7pm
Let’s Summon Demons
A semi-immersive folk horror play in the round examining our attitudes to ritual, revenge and the uprising of female power. Can community lead to mob mentality? What are ghosts and demons and do they come from below or from within?
Join our coven for one night to encounter comedy, folk horror and – perhaps – some demons.
Friday 26th October, 9:30pm
Sunday 28th October, 3pm
Abi is a comedienne suffering with a strange demonic ‘illness’. Lloyd is an everyday Cult leader who is equal parts evil… and fabulous. A mysterious stranger arrives – is he their Satanic salvation? Or does he hold even darker secrets?
A dark comedy play from those behind The Twins Macabre.
Friday 26th – Saturday 27th October, 11:59pm
Chamber Piece Theatre presents a late-night portmanteau, written and presided over by Patrick Chivers. It’s a three-course Midnight Feast of Horror – featuring restless spirits, tormented psyches and a fateful trip to the Scottish Highlands.
See this and it’ll haunt you for the rest of your life!
Saturday 27th October, 3pm
What’s the Bloody Question!
Join us for the kitsch-est horror panel show around – What’s The Bloody Question! Two teams will battle each other in a crusade of horror knowledge, skill and… well, probably play-doh. Will Festival curator Katy Danbury beat Chris Nials of The London Horror Society on home turf? All will be decided on the day of reckoning. Or, as it’s known to us mortals, Saturday, 27th October.
Saturday 27th – Sunday 28th October, 7pm
Skerryvore: A Tale of Terror
In 1876, tragedy befell a remote Scottish lighthouse. Three crewmen went missing, leaving one witness: Mary Campbell. Twenty years later, via the miracle of mesmerism, she will finally share the terrible secrets of Skerryvore!
Sunday 28th October, 9:30pm
The Unseen Hour
Two brand new stories of the uncanny, the macabre and the ridiculous in this long-running horror-comedy audio drama. 3 actors play 10 roles and provide live foley sound effects in an old-fashioned radio drama with special guest performers and live music.
Monday 29th – Wednesday 31st October, 7pm
Providence: The Shadow Over Lovecraft
Dominic Allen (Belt-Up, A Common Man) and Simon Maeder (Superbolt Theatre) present a darkly comic journey through the life and works of America’s most infamous horror writer, HP Lovecraft.
Monday 29th – Wednesday 31st October, 9:30pm
Kurt is an ordinary guy with a very unfortunate living situation: his three roommates are all notorious local serial killers. But times are tough and he’s making it work. At least, he WAS, until his new girlfriend Caroline pops by for an impromptu visit.
Flatting can be hell, but this place is absolute murder…
Thursday 1st – Saturday 3rd November, 7pm
Frances Farmer: Zombie Movie Star
Glitz? Glamour? Graveyard dust? Frances Farmer has it all. Join this decaying diva as she recounts her life on screen and stage, or, well, as much as her rotting brain will let her…
Based on Frances Farmer’s real life story, this campy, undead romp deals with the tremendous ups and downs a life of fame can bring, especially when everyone in your life wants to control it. Extremely dark and occasionally funny, this is one show that’s just to die for.
Thursday 1st – Saturday 3rd November, 9:30pm
The Thing on the Doorstep: Asenath’s Tale
Viola has a problem. Her best friend Asenath doesn’t seem to be quite right. In fact, she may be just a little bit dead… Genderswitching H.P. Lovecraft’s classic story of necromancy “The Thing on the Doorstep,” T.L Wiswell tells the tale of a female master of this darkest of arts.
Saturday 3rd November, 3pm
Frankenstein is revivified in this contemporary retelling. A researcher travels to the frozen south, where scientists are reaching far into the unknown – and perhaps the unthinkable.
It is 200 years since Mary Shelley’s novel, the ice is thawing, and science is still dancing with the problem of death.
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