Following a dramatised version of the real-life story of Ed Gein, Under the Floorboards is an immersive look into the mind of aforementioned protagonist and his quest to appease his deceased mother by murdering and digging up the corpses of others.
With (almost) full nudity and dark themes (as expected) Gein, played wonderfully by Simon Shaw, draws the audience in with his one man account of events, assisted occasionally by voiceovers and puppetry.
Creepy. Undoubtably the intention of the show creators and certainly the feeling I felt while watching this late at night in my home alone (perhaps a mistake in hindsight). I was engaged at every moment by the sudden changes in pace and the wild journey of Gein, who at the heart of it is just trying to please the memory of his late mother, voiced by Karen Littlejohn (who by the way also does an excellent job).
This abstract style approach to telling a real-life story is one I have seen before and for good reason. When done well this style would evoke fear in an audience all by itself, the added point of ‘oh by the way guys this is more-or-less exactly how things went down’ just goes further to leave a lasting impression on the audience. It’s worth pointing out that although this show is undoubtably spine-chilling, it isn’t so frightening to the point where one has to pause or look away. The balance struck between frightening and sticking around to see what happens at the end can be a interesting to-and-fro to master, but the creators have achieved this wonderfully.
Although this show is performed in what looks like a black box theatre space, it has clearly been adapted for life on screen. The cinematography is fluid and follows the relevant action well, (thank the lord for online shows that aren’t just a single static shot!) the only problematic technical hitch being the clear microphone changes between removing and replacing of clothing by Shaw. Even so, overall the technical elements are well executed and any minor issues are quickly forgotten in the mind of the audience as the story moves on.
The cast, crew and creative team behind this should be incredibly proud of the experience they have created for audiences. I can only imagine myself being more immersed if I were to witness it live, which I will be making sure to, should it make its way to live theatre in the future.
A compelling and hair-raising look into the mind of a character who at the end of the day, just wants to be loved (not that he deserves to be).
Under the Floorboards run has concluded at EdFringeOnline2021, but do make sure to keep an eye out for future performances by this company!