As Part of the Edinburgh Horror Festival, at The Banshee Labyrinth just off Edinburgh’s ghostly Royal Mile, The Ritual draws a sell-out, expectant audience to the fifty-seater underground vault that is The Chamber Room. Talking to the queue beforehand, I find one acolyte who is back to see the show for the 13th time, who swears that the first viewing changed her life.
By the end of a very quick hour, I can see why this classic double act, Steffens Hanes as ‘The Master’ and Gregory Lass as his stumbling, crouching, fawning servant ‘Gregor’, are in the process of assembling an almost cult-like following. They are just brilliant.
Good Clowning requires not acting but reacting. Hanes, half Norwegian, half Danish and a graduate of the Paris Clown Academy knows this and uses it to its utmost in one of the most reactive shows I have probably ever seen.
There is really a question at the end of this, whether Hanes and Lass start any show with any material at all, and whether they need to!
The quiet primal beat of a bodhran hand drum signals the start of the show, as Gregor, dressed immaculately in dinner suit and bow tie, weaves carefully and respectfully through the packed house like an attentive half-bowed waiter. He seeks to seat people who are standing and reassures those who are not. Through his wide charming smile pronounced canines glint in the half light, he creates reassurance and doubt in equal measure amongst the hive-like humming audience. There is anticipation.
The Master is coming.
But not until every seat is filled. Not until everything is perfect. We need the spooky lighting, the spooky music and the spooky smoke machine (a vape provided by Emilie their faithful tech!). The Master’s entrance is worth waiting for.
Perfectly choreographed, but made to look and feel like chaos, this is a very clever show indeed and an absolute hoot. Catch it if you can.
Reviewer: Greg Holstead
Reviewed: 27th October 2023
North West End UK Rating: