David Crawford is dressed in HP Lovecraft’s favourite outfit for this one-man storytelling. It suits its cosy setting of ‘Edinburgh’s Smallest Pub,’ but you can easily imagine it on a spot-lit Victorian stage in front of a rapturous audience. As it is now,
The charm of this performance is the rare chance to use your own imagination: concentration truly pays off.
Never successful in his lifetime, HP Lovecraft was an American horror writer in the early twentieth century, much inspired by Edgar Allan Poe. The creator of popular monsters Cthulhu and Nyarlathotep, Lovecraft has had a cult following ever since. Crawford conjures the young HP with a Lovecraftian incantation and from this point on the telling is channelled from the author.
Crawford eases you into the language with well-picked poems and extracts. These build to a full-length story which blurs autobiography with frightening fiction to finish. The Cthulhu description is delivered with particular relish, but the full-length story becomes a little hard to follow at points.
The charm of this performance is the rare chance to use your own imagination: concentration truly pays off. The lack of technological bells and whistles allows the words to create the images in your head as they are meant to, in keeping with Lovecraft’s signature style of leaving ominous gaps in his descriptions. Crawford’s voice is captivating as he describes “the sound that cannot be written down.”
While its eeriness is somewhat hindered by the show’s lunchtime slot, Lovecraft is the king of uncanny and this is well conveyed in Crawford’s storytelling. It is not an entirely polished performance yet but it is a soothing return to a tradition form of entertainment and, to this full crowd of all ages, it was clearly a welcome one. David Crawford’s combination of acting and storytelling forms a fun and creepy hour: a good introduction to Lovecraft or the perfect indulgence for cosmic horror enthusiasts.