Slender at Theatre Upstairs

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The Slenderman goes to Ireland in this somewhat wobbly rendition of the 21st century legend, which nobly attempts but ultimately fails to tackle a modern day bogeyman who has gripped and chilled in equal measure since his creation.

Slender tells the story of three individuals trapped in a cabin in the woods: a writer with a secret subject, a lost young girl and her skeptical boyfriend. As the Slenderman’s influence becomes apparent, paranoia and mistrust descends. Unfortunately, Slender‘s questionable dramatic logic and completely absent direction deflates this chiller before a single goosebump can form.

Why break into the cabin of a stranger in the middle of the night? Why invite the intruders to stay for tea with a Slenderman evidently on the loose? And why does everybody happily keep bunking together once a kitchen knife is pulled? It’s these easily poked holes in the story’s logic which destroys potential tension for the audience, not least assisted by limp performances from the cast. There are no viable stakes in this game, or none the characters are aware of anyway. Stephen O’Leary is the heart of the thing, bringing some much needed pathos and believability to an unbelievable role.

There is something to be said for the idea behind Slender. A cultural invention which has marked the beginning of a new kind of storytelling, Slenderman has been hailed as the inspiration for films, games, ghost stories, internet forums and a few disturbingly grizzly murders. The intoxicating power of the subject offers a story worth the telling, unfortunately, this one simply isn’t it.

Gillian Greer

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