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BWW Review: VALHALLA, The Monkey House

Aug. 8, 2019  

Fourth Monkey's Two Year Rep programme students take over the entirety of The Monkey House directed by Rich Rusk to create a world dominated by Norse Mythology. Loki becomes the master of ceremonies in this site specific piece, introducing Odin, giant spiders, fortune tellers, and an army of Valkyrie to enthrall the audience with a moving reflection.

The project is orchestrated flawlessly in its dynamics. The cast is smooth and exceptionally committed, entertaining the participants with all their creepiness. The young performers lead the promenade like a clockwork machine, assured in their delivery and unwavering in their act. The material is clever and well planned, with Rusk keeping his true ace up his sleeve until the very end.

He sprinkles around glimpses of the real plotline from the very beginning, leaving it to the single individuals to assemble them together before the touching and gorgeously delivered finale. Valhalla is a roller-coaster of a show, with its lively and captivating start inhabited by quirky characters gradually showing a darker, more tender side made of coping mechanisms and pure imagination.

By displacing the action onto four different floors, the piece is permeated by a sense of structural disorientation, which allows the company to play with spaces and visuals. The multiple rooms are decorated with simple materials crafted into vivid and truly impressive sets. From woodland to a cold corporate meeting room, the look of the production and the peculiar use of props are as remarkable as the configuration of the subject matter itself.

Valhalla achieves its upmost potential when it's met with a lack of spoilers: this allows young Freya to take over with the pureness of her heart to lead the way to what is, in essence, a spiritual reckoning of mythical proportions.

Valhalla runs at The Monkey House until 24 August as part of Camden Fringe.


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