Wednesday, 8 April 2015

REVIEW - The Chair, Unicorn Theatre


FROM the moment the audience enters the Tiger Bay warehouse of barber Owain Sawyer, it's clear something mysterious is afoot.
Owain (Gary Lagden) is the teller of extraordinary tales in a new hour-long play, The Chair, written and directed by Lewis Gibson, now on at the Unicorn Theatre.
The audience enters through a small wooden door which leads into a dimly lit and cavernous room. It is full of smoke, with dust covered jars on the shelves containing Victorian objects, sails hanging from the ceiling, a leaky roof and chairs on three sides.
It is also a place which we quickly come to realise is full of strangers and tales of ghosts, fortunes found and lost, myths, rumours and plenty of rum to numb the pain.
As we file in, a man is sitting in "the chair" having a shave before Owain decides he also needs to remove his tooth. For not only is Owain a barber, he also patches up wounds, removes teeth and most importantly, tells stories to the sailors who come through his doors.
They are not just any stories though, they are mysterious, dark and sometimes scary but all from Owain's travels across the seas in countries far away.
And with these stories, which include music and songs, we are transported on a journey around the world visiting countries afar afield as America and India.
It is a fully immersive experience and interactive too at times with younger members of the audience invited to come up to sit in Owain's battered leather chair.
At times there is a distinct chill in the air and at times there are moments of dark humour. It is spine tingling stuff.
Gary Lagden switches seamlessly between the characters in Owain's stories and with the sound and special effects, music and clever lighting we really do feel as though we are in his Tiger Bay room.
The stories are great and very different from each other, the set is brilliant and with the music, performed by Christopher Preece, it makes for quite a spooky show - but never too scary to induce nightmares.

The Chair is on at the Unicorn Theatre in Tooley Street until Sunday, April 12. Tickets cost £16 for adults and £10 for children. Visit or call the box office on 020 7645 0560.

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