Local Salford pub The Eagle Inn is nicknamed ‘The Lamp Oil’ by the locals. Ask any of them why and you will hear a different story from each. What follows is one version presented by House of Orphans and Working Progress as a haunted tale for Halloween.
A suitability spooky venue and a very cold Autumnal night perfectly set the scene for House of Orphans immersive theatre experience. The ancient timbers of the Eagle Inn in Salford hold many secrets that spill over in quite possibly the most innovative and entertaining experience for quite some time. Collier Street in Salford is the perfect setting for such an adventure, being utterly steeped in rich local history.
Belligerent landlord Mark Sheals is waiting for you at the door. With a piercing stare that holds your gaze just slightly longer than you’d like Sheals is a master at manipulating and twisting the audience as he bemoans your intrusion.
His mockery is uncomfortable enough in itself, but then one of the regulars (the superb James Foster on the press night) springs into life delivering a dire warning for attendees. The claustrophobic main bar area of the Eagle causes this to echo around as the regular, in desperation, tries to get you to realise the danger you’re in. This serves only to heighten the unnerving and tense atmosphere – and this is only the first ten minutes.
A slightly lighter tone is adopted as comedic double act Dolly Rose Campbell and Rob Ward appear in a humourous take on Halloween with their show about all things spooky in Salford: ‘Dead Scary’. Intentionally a bit rubbish, it pokes fun at what you’d expect from a Halloween experience. You’ll be herded into their dark den for tales of mystery and horror, but it’s at this point things develop in the most exciting experience you’ll have this Halloween.
The Eagle Inn oozes atmosphere, being an atypical Salfordian pub with nooks and crannies, but redressed for these performances, the shadows come alive. Meriel Pym’s superb set design needs to be seen to be believed, and even then you might struggle to believe it. Lamp Oil is an outstandingly innovative idea, almost flawlessly executed and is guaranteed to leave you gasping for breath.
The Fiction Stroker gives Lamp Oil four strokes out of five:
Lamp Oil runs until 1 November, The Eagle Inn, Collier Street, Salford. Spaces are limited and no latecomers will be admitted. For performance availability, please e-mail the team at firstname.lastname@example.org