He looks a little like Stephen King on the poster, but his personality and intellect make Shaun Hutson look like George Steiner. Horror author Garth Marenghi and his works are the creation of a trio of recent ex-Cambridge Footlighters, and this late-night hour bears both the strengths and weaknesses of that pedigree.
"Marenghi" and his pair of underlings are skilled at what Ken Campbell calls "doing it crappily": in this case, putting an absolute poker face on plonking pretentiousness and base incompetence alike. As they enact Marenghi's first stage work, we get everything from low-tech special effects sequences to mimed Ian Anderson-style flute playing on one leg. Solemnly, balefully, they glare at us and mutely dare us to laugh; consistently, we call their bluff.
But the premise of the show, once established, isn't consistently observed. Some of the jokes are too self-aware for an ass like Marenghi to have created, some are simply gratuitous gags that they evidently couldn't resist shoe-horning into the proceedings. Of course, at that hour only a professional carper such as me would raise such matters. Still, a bit more discipline in assembling their material and they could take off. As it is, at least a company to watch.
Written for the Financial Times Web site, ft.com
Copyright © Ian Shuttleworth; all rights reserved.
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