Boy In Darkness

Titus Groan, heir to the great crumbling kingdom of Gormenghast is fourteen. He escapes from the castle and wanders out into the desert, where he finds a group of changelings with animalistic attributes who draw him into their world. But where do they come from? Are they projections of his inner psyche? Are they manifestations of his feelings about the duties he hates? Or do they work on another level? The answers are out there, and the highly innovative production becomes an individual transformational adventure for each and every member of the audience. During the play, Titus meets Hyena and Goat, is tested and found worthy to be brought before The Lamb. With childlike innocence, they tremble at the name of The Lion, but childhood also has its dark side, as does humanity … is it madness, genius or mystic vision? See the show and decide for yourself. But the show doesn’t end when the lights come up, for the real adventure (which is optional) starts outside in the dark. If you like what The Terrible Infants have done over the years, you’ll love this. It was one of those legendary ‘hidden pearls’ the Fringe is all about. Curious Directive are nudging up there with the best. It’s no surprise they’ve been notching up nominations for awards left right and centre for their work.Any fan of Mervyn Peake’s work is in for a treat. In the writing, C S Lewis meets Blake and both are transcended by hallmarked poetic prose which takes your breath away, and leaves the eyelids of your soul gaping wide in awe.The only thing drawing this company back from a five-star rating is their current limitation in terms of projecting vocally beyond ‘barely audibile intensity’ in competition with the air conditioning in the venue – so sit in the front row if you go. I'm sure that they have the potential to do so. The puppetry element is understated and innovative. Curious Directive’s production is not pure Peake, but it is so steeped in his world, it becomes so. It is inventive, physically rich, multi-layered, intelligent and classy. From before you step into the theatre, strands are spun which travel through the very first scene. The elements connect to each other to weave a web which Titus and the audience have to navigate as they travel through this Gothic adventure story. The web of drama is only fully-formed once the adventure is complete. Each element is worthy of an award in itself. The actors’ make-up is particularly visually compelling. I look forward to seeing more of their work.

Reviews by Leon Conrad

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The Blurb

Titus plans to escape the stifling ritual of home - risky when you live in Gormenghast ... 'Inspired puppetry, movement and live music' (Scotsman) plus an exploded armchair bring Mervyn Peake's hidden gem of classic fantasy to life.

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