Ex Libris Macabre at Theatre Delicatessen
If the cold and gloomy winter streets of London are making you feel less than festive, Ex Libris Macabre is the perfect rabbit hole for you to seek shelter. Little Jade Productions weave together ancient folklore and present-day superstitions through a mesmerising mix of storytelling, poetry and song.
In a cosy little room, tucked away in the upstairs of the Theatre Delicatessen, the audience is huddled in and left entirely alone to explore the quaint setting. An old bookshelf holds the sign “Read Me”, trays of tea and chocolate implore “Drink Me” and a visitor’s book invites “Write Me”, giving you the distinct feeling that you have followed Alice through the looking glass for the evening! However, the warmth of the tapestry sofas and the glow of the Christmas tree are not allowed for long, as the door to the adjoining room is opened and everybody invited in.
In a truly immersive twist, the audience are cast into a dimly lit and bare room; even the temperature drops, making everybody huddle further into their winter jackets. Silhouettes of ghostly abbeys, murderous gravediggers and deadly highwaymen blot out every window in the room and the walls are beautifully wallpapered with pages from books, making for a nostalgic yet somewhat forlorn setting in keeping with the unsettling production.
The small group of storytellers move together, effortlessly enrapturing the audience with their tales. A particularly spooky retelling of Edgar Allen Poe’s The Raven is a stand out. Clever use of props is key to casting the audience into a dark fantasy world for the evening. The stage is set with only a camping light, a few chairs and some instruments; without such a cluttered stage, the players are free to interact with the audience, drawing them closer into their storytelling. The tale that has the audience burrowing further into their seats is the Japanese ghost story of the Mujina, an eerie legend of faceless ghosts. Each member of the quintet plays a key part in each tale, bringing the stories to life by wonderfully merging music, whaling vocals and seamless choreography.
Ex Libris Macabre is a night that won’t stray far from your nightmares and the production is a beautifully crafted, torrid feast of storytelling that celebrates the run up to Christmas in a truly Dickensian manner.
Ex Libris Macabre is at Theatre Delicatessen now. For further information or to book visit the theatre’s website here.