Notre Dame


The Space and Threedumb Theatre Company are made for each other. The Company specialise in the dark and macabre – and the Space’s gothic appearance has the handy effect of making every day feel like Halloween.

This online telling of the story of Notre Dame’s most famous fictional resident is a perfect combination of the two. The action starts with a blood-soaked Esmerelda (Maria Masonou) outside and beating down the door to claim sanctuary. Little does she know what lies inside.

Online theatre can be a complex beast. Sometimes it can feel far too static. Just a dull, often poorly placed camera pointing at the action. Literally a view from the cheapest of seats. Threedumb have obviously thought deeply about how to present this show to an audience that could have their attention grabbed by their phones, their computers, their TV, their children or their lives at any moment.

The result is a visually stunning rendition of this classic tale. Using a combination of lighting techniques, pupetry, costume and – of course – the space itself, this tale feels claustrophobic and intimate in equal parts.

The acting is also effective for the medium. They are acting to and with the camera. They draw us into the story. The narration is done by Gargoyle (a perfect overseer) Stryga – a famous part of of the real cathedral’s stauary. Her role as the narrator and voice of god makes perfect sense in the context.

Esmerelda is fierce and feisty. So much so that she scares and fascinates Quasimodo (Gary Duncan) in equal measure. Duncan delivers a really engaging and emotionally intelligent performance. Even as others around him have bigger styles and declaimations (in particular the evil Frollo (Duncan Riches) who dominates the action as he dominates his adopted and abused son.

I have the worst attention span in the world. And I find online theatre often oddly hard to engage with. But this was charming and chilling. In the expert hands of Stephen Smith the story whips along and keeps your interest without needing to grab your attention. This was a fun, engaging and thought provoking hour spent with  but not quite in, the theatre.