Confronting, engaging and undeniably frightening, Benjamin Henson’s Not Pyscho presents an absolute treat of a thriller this August.
Described by actor Julia Croft as not your standard “living-room theatre”, I did my best to enter the mid-week showing with an open mind. If my expectations can be described as not knowing quite what to expect, then they were definitely met. My friend and I entered the darkly lit theatre excited and slightly apprehensive. After a dark corridor, we found ourselves in the centre of one of two front rows, facing both the catwalk stage and the other half of the audience. With no sign of imminent action, we sat down and started to chat. Suddenly our conversation came to a halt – my friend had spotted the hardly hidden fully naked man laid out on the stage less than a metre away from us. It was around this point I got an idea of how committed the actors would be throughout the show. The lights suddenly dropped, I clutched my friends arm, and the show began.
Funky music, flashing lights, evocative set, and plenty of bangs and blood, made for an altogether eerie experience. Not Pyscho follows the story of the aforementioned naked Matthew (Edwin Beats) as he navigates his feelings of love, lust and mental instability. Accompanied by his mother (Donogh Rees) and the mysterious Maz (Virginia Frankovich), our protagonist leads us through a range of provocative scenes that both stimulate and scare. Using tropes from classic slasher films, Not Pyscho delivers a story that is more about thrills than sense, but in the best possible way. A brave cast and inventive set design results in a show that confronts, rather than questions, its audience.
The impressive cast all deliver outstanding performances, with Bryony Skillington, Kevin Keys, and Croft appearing alongside the leads. Set design also stands out as a winning element, the dirtied clinical stage attributed to Christine Urquhart. Compelling in pieces, Not Pyscho possibly only lacks with its ultimate resolution – a common trait of the genre it emulates. Yet its journey makes up for this, with the startling scenes dishing up a refreshing experience. The sort of show that redefines the rules of theatre, Not Pyscho appeals to both the theatre veteran and the fresh-faced newbie. “Hitchcock but not” Henson’s latest project continues his reign of experimental bangers.
Catch Not Pyscho at Queen Street’s Q Theatre until the 29th August. Tickets are available here.