Unseen Dramaturgy


aWebLogoTICKETS: www.pleasance.co.uk/event/london-horror-festival-unseen-hour

The Unseen Hour returns for a second season.

Underground cult horror comedy live show and podcast The Unseen Hour makes its highly anticipated return for a Halloween special for London Horror Festival the Pleasance Theatre. A surreal radio drama live on stage with three actors playing ten roles and creating live foley sound effects, plus guest performances and live music in a brand new tale of the uncanny, the macabre and the absurd.

The Unseen Hour ran as a monthly live show from 2017 to 2019, mounting wild and chaotic stage performances every month, and turning them into a fortnightly podcast of surreal tales of disaster and destruction ranging from invasions of carnivorous plants, to robot uprisings, to global pandemics, to arcane doomsday cult apocalypses.

Ancient monsters from behind the sky, roving bands of spectral barbarians, ravening bears, space vampires, hipster zombies: the first 50 episodes offer an endless array of unspeakable perils. Now, after a nine month silence, The Unseen Hour returns with an hour long Halloween Special to kickstart a new season with a whole flood of fresh Armageddons. Further live shows will follow at other venues.


The Unseen Hour – 7.15pm, 24th October 2019 – Stage Space, Pleasance Theatre, Islington.

The previous 50 episodes of the show are available for free at unseenhour.com/listen and on all good podcatchers. 


how does your work fit into the horror festival’s ethos?
The Unseen Hour itself is a witch’s brew of horror subgenres. It’s a Frankenstein’s monster. A chimaera. It takes inspiration from all corners of horror tradition and folds them together – looking for excitement, entertainment and gripping meaningful stories within the chaos. All of that can also be said of the London Horror Festival as a whole. Both The Unseen Hour and London Horror Festival are celebrations of cult pop culture, and the literary tradition of horror brought into the lights of our current theatre culture. We feel very much at home in the London Horror Festival.
what can the audience expect to experience?
The audience for our live show is going to see a small group of very passionate and dedicated and excited writers and performers throw absolutely everything they have into a show that they have built and refined over several years. It’s a performance in the style of old fashioned radio drama, with live sound effects and actors playing multiple roles, and the script is a brand new piece of writing that skips from madcap absurdity, to chilling moments of suspense, to sardonic social commentary, to joyful pop culture parody… and so on. On top of all that, there will be live music and a monologue written by a guest writer and performed by a guest actor.
how well does horror work as a theatrical genre?
Theatre is a medium where horror has possibly been less successful than elsewhere. In film, television and the written word it’s huge, but apart from a few mainstays, the theatre (especially mainstream theatre) has a fairly meagre range on offer. Maybe a tendency toward the supernatural, or toward internal psychological distress or towards extreme violence are not particularly amenable to conventional theatre (although all those things can certainly be done wonderfully on stage). But there is huge potential. The immediacy of being physically in the room with something scary is a real asset. The sense that what you are experiencing is REAL in a way that other media cannot offer, is fantastic. Horror is a fascinating genre in that each medium has clear limitations and strengths. Theatre may have been eclipsed by horror’s huge popularity elsewhere, but stage horror has a beauty that is uniquely its own.
do you see your work in any theatrical – or other – tradition?
The Unseen Hour is rooted in history and tradition. Our most conscious references are The Goon Show, Welcome To Night Vale, The Thrilling Adventure Hour and The Fitzrovia Radio Hour. That places us mainly in a sort of 1940s live radio theatre tradition by way of modern podcasts. But a lot of our specific references are from horror cinema from throughout the 20th century or from horror novels or other literature, and our attitude to parody, pastiche and burlesque (in the old sense) is, I hope, rooted in Vaudeville, the English Music-hall comedy scene and more ancient theatre traditions (I think we capture something of the messiness of folk theatre and mummers plays). In truth, we are promiscuous when it comes to heritage. We want a piece of everything.
how does this work fit in with your usual productions?
The Unseen Hour is a long running anthology show, so as a writer and producer it has accounted for a lot of my recent work. The other plays, scripts, short films etc. that I’ve developed over recent years often seem to fall within the realms of cult genre fiction. Often that means a horror element, but I’m also fascinated by noir. Comedy, too seems to be a staple. A few projects I’ve been working on are in more of a historical vein, though, which is possibly a bit of a contrast. The Unseen Hour, too, is very audio focused, and a lot of my other work is largely physical – physical comedy and clown are very much my bag – so in that sense, The Unseen Hour is the outlier.
The core cast of The Unseen Hour consists of three actors – writer and producer of the show James Carney,  Joey Timmins (Ogle Award winning radio series The Strange Case Of Springheel’d Jack) and Brice Stratford (Off West-End People’s Favourite 2012). Each episode also features special guests – one writer, one actor, and one musical act. In the past it has featured award winning playwrights such as Camilla Whitehill, Jimmy Osborne and Casey Jay Andrews; favourites from the podcast world such as Cecil Baldwin (Welcome To Night Vale), Adal Rifai (Hello From The Magic Tavern) and David K. Barnes (Wooden Overcoats); and highly acclaimed musicians including Gabby Young, The Little Unsaid and ROOKES.

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