What more could you want than a one-man gothic horror spoof, which captures the perfect blend of constant dread and self-referential comedy? Nick Coyle has created a brooding boundary-breaking homage to the 18th-century literature greats.
Coyle stars as poor, plain Frances Glass, a governess tasked with minding a creepy mansion after several predecessors have mysteriously fled… and all manner of ghoulish goings-on ensue. All the familiar tropes are covered (objects moving of their own volition, ghost children, badgers in the basement) and twisted to great effect.
Unlike many examples in the dark comedy genre, Queen of Wolves is actually as scary as it is funny. There isn't an over-reliance on anti-climaxes, and it is quite a testament to Coyle's craft that the play manages to flip effortlessly from a joke about embroidering to a genuinely terrifying blackout.
The suspense running throughout is easily up there with the stage adaptation of The Woman in Black, and the sound effects in particular managed to spook the bejesus out of the audience. (Well, OK, me.) It's not easy to make live theatre scary, but Coyle has triumphed; this is a fantastical and fresh approach to horror, blurring the lines between comedy and theatre, held together by Coyle's consummate performance and wry meta-commentary.
This is the kind of production that would only work in the hands of a comedian as self-assured as Coyle, daring enough to throw in a Selena Gomez hit song halfway through a story set in the 19th century. Bold, refreshing and atmospheric, Queen of Wolves is a play that fits snugly in between The Woman in Black and What We Do In The Shadows. Edgar Allan Poe would be proud.