Pickman's Model by HP Lovecraft

Laying your hands on a cult classic is a daunting task, especially when you are dealing with HP Lovecraft’s much loved gothic fiction. Best known for his unpronounceable Cthulhu mythos, HP Lovecraft also wrote a number of other short stories, one of which is brought to life by The Other Realm Theatre Company.

A problem with lovecrafian horror is that it takes time to develop.

Pickman's Model was published in 1927 as a shocking tale exploring the boundaries of artistic genius and madness. The story revolves around Bostonian painter Richard Pickman, notorious for his ghoulish artworks. His dark story is revealed through the narrator Thurber, who befriends Pickman and gets more intrigued by his macabre work. Finally, Thurber takes a tour in Pickman's personal gallery, hidden away in run-down Boston old town, where it is revealed the ghouls in his paintings are much more than just creations of his imagination.

Pickman's Model is adapted for the stage by Adrian Jameson, the front man of The Other Realm, which is quickly becoming Brighton's top horror theatre company. The venue is aptly chosen, as the basement studio of Sweet Werks on Middle Street provides intimate surroundings which help to create a suitably claustrophobic atmosphere. The miniscule stage is divided into two sections: Thurber’s chambers, where he is telling the tale by way of a telephone conversation with his trusted friend Elliot; and Pickman’s studio, where he paints his macabre pieces. The artwork is by Robin Stevenson, but for me, his work is too modern for a Lovecraftian ethos. The original text allows your imagination to do the work for you.

The two main characters both had their moments. David Lee was outstanding as the disturbed Thurber. He portrayed the character with a grace that fitted perfectly to the era, and his final mental breakdown was a masterpiece. However, I didn’t quite find Pickman, played by Anthony Arundell, believable as the deranged artist. He looked more like a doctor or perhaps a dentist. Adrian Jameson would have been a far more suitable Pickman, instead of merely popping up from the well as the ghoul. Another problem with Lovecraftian horror is that it takes time to develop. The 35 minute running time did not quite allow the relationship between the two men to evolve, or the closing to be truly memorable.

The great mystery between artists’ talent and sanity remains unsolved. As Salvador Dali, the master himself, eloquently puts it: “The only difference between me and a madman is that I’m not mad.” Although many may say that Dali had toys in the attic, I bet he didn’t have ghouls in the basement like Pickman.

Reviews by Johanna Makelainen

GMF Digital Events

Warhol: Bullet Karma

GMF Digital Events


Pleasance Online

A Suffocating Choking Feeling

Fringe Online

Saving Wonderland


Since you’re here…

… we have a small favour to ask. We don't want your money to support a hack's bar bill at Abattoir, but if you have a pound or two spare, we really encourage you to support a good cause. If this review has either helped you discover a gem or avoid a turkey, consider doing some good that will really make a difference.

You can donate to the charity of your choice, but if you're looking for inspiration, there are three charities we really like.

Mama Biashara
Kate Copstick’s charity, Mama Biashara, works with the poorest and most marginalised people in Kenya. They give grants to set up small, sustainable businesses that bring financial independence and security. That five quid you spend on a large glass of House White? They can save someone’s life with that. And the money for a pair of Air Jordans? Will take four women and their fifteen children away from a man who is raping them and into a new life with a moneymaking business for Mum and happiness for the kids.
Donate to Mama Biashara now

Theatre MAD
The Make A Difference Trust fights HIV & AIDS one stage at a time. Their UK and International grant-making strategy is based on five criteria that raise awareness, educate, and provide care and support for the most vulnerable in society. A host of fundraising events, including Bucket Collections, Late Night Cabarets, West End Eurovision, West End Bares and A West End Christmas continue to raise funds for projects both in the UK and Sub-Saharan Africa.
Donate to Theatre MAD now

Acting For Others
Acting for Others provides financial and emotional support to all theatre workers in times of need through the 14 member charities. During the COVID-19 crisis Acting for Others have raised over £600,000 to support theatre workers affected by the pandemic.
Donate to Acting For Others now



The Blurb

The Other Realm brings Lovecraft’s classic short story to the stage. Pickman is an artist of extraordinary talent, but his gruesome paintings are born of a terrible secret. A dark and shocking tale that reveals the boundary between an artist’s genius and insanity... (Highly Recommended: Fringe Review) **** (Reviews Hub) This is The Other Realm’s fourth Brighton Fringe, following the highly successful ‘I Love Luci’ in 2015, and ‘Which is Witch?’ in 2016.

Most Popular See More

The Phantom of the Opera

From £27.00

More Info

Find Tickets

The Mousetrap

From £24.00

More Info

Find Tickets

Life of Pi

From £19.00

More Info

Find Tickets

Tina - The Tina Turner Musical

From £12.00

More Info

Find Tickets


From £24.00

More Info

Find Tickets

Anything Goes

From £42.00

More Info

Find Tickets