Frantic Assembly, London, United Kingdom, 2001
Author: Nicola McCartney
Directed by Scott Graham, Steven Hoggett

about the production

We've treated the production very much like a film, using our own versions of flashbacks, camera tricks and close-ups. The soundtrack uses cinema techniques too.

Scott Graham, director of the performance

 We made a point about the women not being elegant and the movement makes them almost reptilian. Their physicality is about a struggle that leads to exhaustion, pushing them to the edge psychologically.

TC Howard, choreographer of the performance

Following the successes of The Generation Trilogy, Sell Out and Hymns, Underworld is an electrifying study into the realm of fear. When in shock, how do you make the distinction between the paranormal and paranoia? When four notions of truth collide, four women face the question; is someone messing with their heads or is something taking over their Iives?

Hard, dark, fast and frightening, Frantic are back, breaking the boundaries of modem theatre with their breath-taking mix of touching realism and bruising physicality. With interweaving time scales, sub­plots, twists and a cinematic soundtrack, Frantic reinvent the ghost story for a modem audience.

The Guardian

 Horror has always seemed to me a deeply questionable genre but, mora! quibbles aside, Frantic Assembly, with their high-decibel mix of sharp scripting, stylised movement and pulsating music score, have yet again hit a contemporary nerve. It is extraordinary that they were passed over in the recent theatre funding bonanza.

Carole Woddis, The Herald, 26/4/2001

 Frantic use a snappy combination of sharply choreographed movement, music, shadows and light to establish palpable atmospheres of apprehension, with the various dance sequences in which the girls jerk back and forth as though in response to something the audience cannot see in particular emphasising the thematic interest in the notion of things that hold the greatest fear being the things inside you, your past, what you already know.

Claire Allfree, Theatre Reviews, 25/4/2001


script: Nicola McCartney
directed by Scott Graham and Steven Hoggett
choreography: TC Howard
cast: Sarah Beard, Susanne Cave, Marcia Pook, Lydia Baksh


Frantic Assembly was formed in 1995. It is a small-scale physical theatre company that has gained an impressive reputation nationally and internationally. Frantic's work is known for its fusion of bruising physicality with sharp, contemporary writing. They created a high octane, ground breaking style that smashes the boundaries between contemporary dance and theatre. Inspired by club and street culture, influenced by film, adverts, videos and music all kinds, Frantic Assembly aims to deliver demonstrably with a predominantly young adult audience. Their work has been described as essential to the future of theatre. In the Underworld the young playwright Nicola McCartney' s razor sharp script is blended with choreography from TC Howard. Her choreographic style is fast furious and highly physical and from the actors requires the ability to mix 'acting' with 'dancing', which is crucial. The directors Scott Graham and Steven Hoggett tried to present a 21 century ghost story that investigates modem experiences of fear, paranoia and paranormal.


  • Nominated – Best Fringe show (Look Back in Anger) Manchester Evening News Awards 1995
  • Nominated – Most Innovative Touring Production (Zero) Total Theatre Awards 1997
  • Nominated – Award for Acting Excellence (Zero) – The Stage 1997
  • Best Directed show (Klub) – Cairo IntemationalFestival, Egypt 1998
  • Best Off West End (Sell Out) – Time Out Live Awards 1998
  • Nominated – Best Fringe show (The Generation Trilogy) Manchester Evening News Awards 1998


Materials available

Video of the production: no
Scripts of the production: SK, EN

If you are interested in these materials, write to archivy@nitrafest.sk