On Your Head Be It is a witty piece of writing from the pens of Joseph Cullen and Sasha Wilson, the beating heart of up and coming theatre group Out Of The Forest.
For the most part gallows humour, the play – now showing as part of the London Horror Festival at the Old Red Lion Theatre in Islington – is based around odd couple Stuart and Eleanor (played by Cullen and Wilson). They are spending a weekend in Wales, away from the madding crowds. Downtime. Maybe a walk on Conwy Suspension Bridge or a stroll around the castle. Maybe a long lingering bath.
All lovey-dovey. But this is no ordinary couple. No way Jose.
Through flashback we learn that the couple are not bonded by love but by their love of gruesome deeds. It is a connection that not even in deepest Wales they can push to one side as taxi driver Gareth discovers. Not even fine Welsh air, the haphazard use of pseudonyms (Reginald and Gloria) and separate bedrooms can stop them committing dastardly deeds. Born to kill.
It is all rather tongue in cheek with each ‘scene’ – the hotel foyer, the bedroom, the pub – introduced with a play upon words. ‘You may never leave’ (upon entering the hotel) and ‘food to die for’ (the pub). Nor do the main characters refrain from this murderous theme. ‘I’d murder for a bath,’ says Eleanor at one stage. Indeed, she would. This is a person not to be trusted or turn your back on for a moment. Serially disturbed.
In amongst discussions of murders committed and sexual perversions (Stuart reminiscing about ejaculating to the ticking clock on TV programme Countdown), there are many jokes and clever plays upon words. The couple even indulge in an amusing musical duet at the end with its theme being murder and the various ways it can be committed.
The use of party toys to depict various objects is also clever. So a party horn becomes a cigarette while a red balloon is a stand in for poor old Gareth. Flashbacks are introduced by either Stuart or Eleanor walking around the perimeter of the stage with a piece of cardboard stating in pen ‘flashback’.
Although the play, produced by Claire Gilbert, is a little disjointed and occasionally veers off course with discussions about the four main categories of serial killer, On Your Head Be It succeeds. Sixty minutes of murderous fun.
Cullen and Wilson are a talented team. Not only can they write but they can’t half act. Cullen’s Stuart is under-stated (and chilling as a result) while Wilson’s Eleanor is a frightening, manipulative, sassy and compulsive piece of murderous work. Quite brilliant in a weird kind of way.
On Your Head Be It can be seen on October 17 (9.30pm) and October 27 (9.30pm) as part of the London Horror Festival. You will laugh and cringe in equal measure.