Thaddeus Bent is indeed worthy of the title of teller of stories which he sets himself out to be at the start of the show.
Thaddeus Bent, with a shock of crazed hair standing on edge, a fine waistcoat and a dramatic leather overcoat, greets each audience member personally as they enter the venue. With the night drawing in he uses the torch on his phone to find his way to the front of the stage. This personal touch and DIY atmosphere-building set the tone for the whole show. Bent updates the horror story genre for a 21st century audience, off-setting ta traditional tension-building narrative with an offbeat style replete with pop culture references and absurd word-play. Stories range from a cautionary tale about a haunted shed to a terrifying story of fish-people, and much more in between.
Some of the references seem to fall flat with some of the audience, demonstrating the need to be in the same frame of reference in order for much of Bent’s humour to work. However, the tight storytelling and incessant zany details never fail to amuse. The tales do genuinely put you on the edge of your seat, and Bent has the ability to captivate before skilfully, off handedly, bringing you back into the real world with some form of incongruous turn. Added to this are some fun, well-placed local references and an impressive use of call-backs which help knit the stories together into a nicely structured show.
This is helped greatly by the excellent use of stagecraft in the form of pre-recorded sound effects operated on stage by the sinisterly hooded Asternon Pericles Barkley, brilliant ambient live electric guitar played by the chill, be-hatted, ‘silent guitarist’ Daniel Bradley - whose music is a highlight of the show - as well as Bent’s own engaging physicality. He’s sometimes delightfully awkward to match his unassuming weirdo style, at others, energetically expressive, adding hilarious mime to help tell the story in tandem with the sound effects.
Thaddeus Bent is indeed worthy of the title of teller of stories which he sets himself out to be at the start of the show. These are some well-told tales which are definitely worth hearing first hand at the Fear-tre of Fear itself.