Review: House of Hell

DramaSoc’s Open Drama Night offers up an exciting Halloween-inspired comedy that certainly amused

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Photo Credit: DramaSoc

Venue: Drama Barn

★★★★★

Hell is empty and all the devils are here, and having trouble with their student accommodation. That’s the rough basis of DramaSoc’s most recent Open Drama Night, which showed this Monday to what was a pretty packed crowd.

The Seven Lords of Hell, each corresponding to one of the Seven Deadly Sins, are all sharing a house somewhere in York. There’s Satan (Wrath), Lucifer (Pride), Beezlebub (Gluttony), Mammon (Greed), Leviathan (Envy), Belphegor (Sloth) and Asmodeus (Lust), all updated for the 21st century. These days, Satan is channeling her wrath into anti-patriarchal slogans, Mammon’s doing PPE and Asmodeus is having to make do with the basement as an impromptu sex dungeon. I heard a couple of comments that it would have been nice had all this mythology been laid out at the start, but for my own part I thought things became clear quickly enough.

The plot kicks in when Satan moves out. Even the eldritch horrors, plumbed from the basest urges of man, don’t like dealing with rising rent prices, so the for rest of the play there is a scramble to find a replacement. Along the way, there’s a dispute on the nature of cake, mediations on the colour blue and running gags; an advert from the Dark Lord C’thulhu for Doritos and Mountain Dew; and a memorable scene with a man and a woman in underwear with a spanner.

The dynamics between characters wasn’t bad and neither was the performance, bar a few niggles with remembering lines (such are the perils of being the character who has to speak in rhyming couplets). Special mentions go to Lewis Crook’s flaunting Lucifer, Jess Patton’s incredibly northern Mammon and Ged Unsworth sitting in the back as Belphegor, chiming in with a rambling non-sequitur whenever needed (and, more often than not, where it wasn’t). The potential roommates provide a plethora of cameos – chief amongst them would be Ross Cronshaw as Joseph, who probably got the biggest laughs of the night.

And then there’s a devil in one final detail. The actual scripted play ran for 50 minutes – after that, the mystery housemate emerged (without any of the actors being told who it was beforehand) and the cast were left to improvise. While that section didn’t run too long, to the actors’ credit it was hard to tell when the improvised section kicked in.

Overall, the night was a good one, between the performances from the actors and debuting writer/director Bob Horton’s script. Open Drama Nights have always been a good way to shine a spotlight on new student talent, and after Monday’s performance I’ll be following them with interest. I recommend you do so too.

15 comments

  1. You have to be joking. This was the worst thing I’ve ever seen, and I once saw a circle-headed, Halloween-infested monster smack Brian Cox around the face for twelve hours.

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  2. Great show. I laughed louds!

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  3. I must take issue with this article, as the photo is credited to Dramasoc, when it was in fact taken by the writer (myself), with the co-director’s camera. This will not do and shows the slipping standards of student journalism.

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  4. 31 Oct ’14 at 1:16 pm

    Bubblegum Mike

    All joking aside, the impartiality of this review must be taken into account. Given that ODNs are rarely reviewed, and given that the author is at least Facebook friends with this reviewer, the authenticity (or, at least, the generality) of the five stars must be called into consideration.

    I went to see House of Hell, and whilst it was by no possible stretch of the imagination a five star production, it was largely enjoyable. All that is achieved by bandying this kind of rating around is the systematic undermining of the star system as a whole, and the compromising of Niall Whitehead’s professional opinion in light of potentially dubious impartiality.

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    • I have to agree, like, I am genuinely shocked to receive 5 stars for this, 3 would have been good, but yes, I agree, to put this in the same league as Journey’s End? No, not a chance

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    • 4 Nov ’14 at 12:48 pm

      five stars is a lot though

      While we can’t make a judgement on impartiality, we can certainly say this review is accounting for the peculiar nature of ODNs and shouldn’t be compared to reviews of weekend plays or professional productions.

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  5. Raaaaarrrrrrrrgggghhhhhh

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  6. Well, I think we were all wonderful! It was peach I tell you, peach! Especially me. And my arse. I think my arse alone was worth 3.8 stars!

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  7. It were alright. *Shrugs*

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  8. Hi, I’m Joseph and I nailed this show harder than an unsuspecting wildebeest! There was only one thing wooden about me…and that was my penis. ;)

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