Review: T24’s Christie in Love
As T24 continues to wow students with its productions this term, Banrika Gill reviews the Drama Society’s take on the Horror genre
As a blatant avoider of horror, I was surprised by how much I enjoyed T24’s Christie in Love. Tom Houlton, the director, introduced the play as a stylised piece and one that would last for an hour.
The play itself was about the story of a serial killer named John Christie who murdered at least six women between 1943 and 1953, after which he was caught, tried and hung. This story was repeated in the form of a news report in the beginning, as we filed into the room at the top of the tower in Darwin College. The floor was covered in newspaper, which the director confirmed was meant to symbolise the dirt and mud of the backyard of Christie’ house. The room was filled in darkness and silence. A faint crying of a female could be heard. A rustling was present near the chairs. A hand could be seen, always close but never touching. My nails were biting into my skin in fear.
The first act brought the audience smack into the middle of the day, with the police hunting for the bodies of the murdered women. There was an obvious chemistry between the two police officers during the scene as they attempt to come to terms with the actions of Christie, especially the young officer, played by Sasha Radlov, who repeatedly claimed that he simply couldn’t understand how an individual could do this. There was a continuous change in lighting through flashlights in order to suit the graveness of a scene, while still giving the audience the time to process the information they were provided. The entire story seemed to flow seamlessly as the actors switched roles and personalities to further emphasize the different point of views regarding the situation of John Christie.
John Christie, himself, was brought back from the dead, with his trousers around his ankles and a cardboard mask over his head. A tie was used to demonstrate Christie pleasuring himself, as one of the actors who was an officer, James Nash, added commentary from the side-lines. Christie was a complicated man but according to the actor who played him, Elliot Huxtable, Christie was a far more naturalistic character than the others. The Constable and Christie saw intense scenes during the interrogation scenes, as Christie’s breakdown is witnessed through the re-enactment of his encounter with the first woman he murdered played by Vicki Lyden.
Vicki, who we’d previously seen dead on the ground, made an impressive transformation from a lifeless body to an alive and conniving prostitute. While the characters didn’t touch the audience members, despite moments of proximity, their behaviour towards each other held no such boundaries with moments of rage being punctuated by face grabbing and jumping on each other. Christie’ reliving of Vicki’s killing brought his problems with women and love to light.
The death and end of Christie In Love was final and satisfying, with applause ringing out in delight and pleasure. The audience walked out, around the dead, with an appreciation for horror and the cast. All the while, Elliot had a piece of newspaper stuck at the back on his throat, hoping not to cough while he had to play dead and we couldn’t help but congratulate Tom.