David Crawford's one man show about the great granddaddy of weird fiction, the one and only H.P. Lovecraft, tries to be both an insightful look into the life and times of the strange gentleman of providence, and a performance of some of his greatest works. Unfortunately it fails at both ends and instead reveals itself as a bare-bones, tepid and at times hard to watch muddle.
A show that needs some serious tweaking before it reaches the full potential an author like Lovecraft deserves.
The show sets itself up as an exploration of Lovecraft as a person, aiming to understand the man behind the strange and eldritch tales he wrote. Certainly an interesting and intriguing concept, it's a shame it doesn't actually materialise on stage. Instead of any sort of in-depth understanding of the man or his work we are treated to a CliffsNotes like version of his life that rushes over several important aspects such as his mother's death, his marriage and his divorce. Fans of Lovecraft, like myself, will be presented with nothing they didn't know already and other audience members will likely be scratching their heads at the speed with which these events fly past. This is then compounded by the fact the show gives up on narrative entirely by the halfway mark and decides to become simply a one man performance of Shadows over Innsmouth, one of Lovecraft's more famous novellas. There appears to be no reason for this, no attempt to justify what this story says about the author, his work or the broader themes of the play. It simply appears to pad the show and help it crawl towards the hour mark.
All of is not helped a jot by Crawford's performance, his conversational tone throughout slows the pace of the play and leads to frequent umming and ahhing that breaks up the flow of the piece and during the drawn out performance of Innsmouth makes scenes that should be tense appear under-rehearsed and toothless. Crawford appears to be holding back throughout, never fully committing to the role and whispering rather than shouting at moments of high tension or pain, almost as if he's trying to avoid waking someone up next door. This results in a nadir of energy that made the final 20 minutes ebb by agonisingly slowly.
Whilst it is clear Crawford has a great deal of love and respect for Lovecraft, and despite my own desire to recommend a great show about the author, in its current form this piece is not one worth seeing. Neither an insightful deconstruction of the author nor an engaging performance of his work, Lovecraft's Monsters is a show that needs some serious tweaking before it reaches the full potential an author like Lovecraft deserves.