A manic clown beckons the audience into the hall, ostensibly inviting them to play a game but then revealing that the game is life and they are already pawns, just a question of which card will be dealt to them by fate, what horror will befall them when the Wheel of Misfortune is spun and the tale unfolds, menacing figures stepping forth from the shadows and from behind curtains to enact tales of doom.
Conceived and performed by Edinburgh creative collective Frighthouse, The Wheel of Misfortune is on the whole performed with energy and grim gusto, manic clown confirming at every opportunity that he is indeed manic, but built around a handful of tales both slight and rushed it is less the sinister spookiness of Creepshow than a series of one-page filler pieces from E C Comics, the progenitor of that horror comedy classic.
Forced from their broken-down car in the middle of the night in an unfamiliar place, two women are experimented on by a scientist intent on recreating The Human Centipede; children kept indoors on a rainy day are terrorised by rats; a man in debt is haunted by his rising bills; a man who feels fatherhood has stolen his youth sees what remaining time he has taken from him, but the grotesque outcome is always the same.
The costumes and masks excellent, particularly the dancing rat king, many of the ensemble do their best with segments based around a single idea requiring development and depth to make them engaging, creating caricatures for the slaughterhouse rather than characters yet wasting precious time between each for the increasingly tiresome manic clown to go through the parade of pulling someone onstage for a photo opportunity, the spin of The Wheel of Misfortune offering broad potential but poorly executed.
The Wheel of Misfortune runs at theSpace at Surgeons Hall until Saturday 19th August