PREVIEW DISCLAIMER: This production has toured festivals, but this review is of the first London performance.
Phyllida Lloyd directs Shaw, who performs the poem itself, and dancer Daniel Hay-Gordon, who helps her create the visual element of the story through movement, very sparse use of props, and light and shadow (Hay-Gordon's shadow creating the albatross on the white sail hung behind the performers in Chloe Obolensky's design is a highlight, although this idea of a human shadow puppet is subsequently underused.) The Old Vic Tunnels appear to have acquired an underground lake since I was last at the Leake Street end of it, which seems appropriate enough, and if it remains one of the less welcoming venues on the fringe at least it looks right for a ghoulish tale, with the audience seating added to with a few rows of benches and upturned wooden boxes at the front (seating is unreserved, despite my ticket saying otherwise; the tickets also list a "doors open" time but no start time, so I'm including 10 minutes' reading the Evening Standard and waiting for the show to start in the running time.)
Shaw starts the show amiably wandering around the audience, chatting to and even kissing the odd audience member, but things soon turn darker and she seems to relish the horrors of her tale. She's an enthusiastic performer of poetry and well-matched to the piece. I can't say it made me love the poem and I had my distracted moments but it was interesting enough - I wouldn't call it unmissable, although for Coleridge fans it probably is.
The Rime of the Ancient Mariner by Samuel Taylor Coleridge is booking until the 13th of January at the Old Vic Tunnels.
Running time: 1 hour straight through.