Mark Ludmon reviews horrifying new thriller Sleeping Giant at Assembly Rooms at Edinburgh Fringe
HP Lovecraft meets Shirley Jackson in Sleeping Giant, an entertaining play that will delight fans of TV horror. In the hands of an experienced cast over from the US, it weaves together a story that may be short on terror but serves up plenty of dark humour and gruesome thrills.
It opens on a young couple enjoying a trip to one of the classic locations of screen horror, a remote lake house. After proposing to his girlfriend Alex, Ryan starts telling her about the ancient bloodthirsty religion of the Butterfly King but something just as horrifying interrupts them: news of a giant squid-like monster that has been sighted emerging from the depths of the lake. A series of scenes, initially appearing unconnected, reveals the insidious effect of this tentacled creature on people not just around the lake but in homes, shops and other situations further afield.
This is not a show for anyone who dislikes fantasy or horror. If HP Lovecraft’s otherworldly inventions or Shirley Jackson’s domestic dread are not familiar territory, Sleeping Giant may be disconcerting. Brought up on Buffy the Vampire Slayer and fed by The Vampire Diaries and Supernatural, I relished the black comedy and fantastic visions. It is no surprise to learn that the play’s writer, Steve Yockey, is a veteran of both Supernatural and the TV series of Scream.
Directed by Michael Matthews, the drama is well paced, with slowly building tension and blackly amusing twists. The strong cast features Daisy Eagan, Adam Silver, Katherine Skelton, Mark Jude Sullivan and Rick Cosnett (who played a vampire-killing professor in The Vampire Diaries), each taking multiple roles throughout. They gamely throw themselves into the macabre and sometimes over-the-top action, playing it with just the right amount of deadpan seriousness. They conjure up an increasingly apocalyptic vision that suits unsettling times.
Running to 24 August 2019.