C venue, Edinburgh
August, 2002

*** Interesting "whispers in the dark" treatment

How do you stage Lovecraft's vision of age-old, in human entities of horror? By not staging them; darkness and words do all the work.

Total Fear's production admits only twelve people at a time. We sit in a circle of chairs on the stage, facing out from the centre. All is dark, apart from an occasional flickering torch beam we can half-see behind us. The actors pad noiselessly around, asking us questions about human perception and reality. Gradually there is a shift towards asking about fear, how we deal with the unknown, and whether primal fears and unarticulated race memories may be based on something real and supernaturally eldritch. In the final minute of the half-hour experience, it is suggested that the basis of these terrors are Lovecraft's demons: Cthulhu, Tsathoggua and Azathoth.

It is billed as an "interactive" event, and is so in that we are invited to answer the whispered questions; one can spot the company picking out "favoured" interrogatees as they sense which of us are more likely to give them the kind of answers they prefer. Mostly, though, it's just a matter of incorporating a few key words from the audience's answers into a shifting polyvocal recitation of discrete phrases which gradually drift towards the planned conclusion. No real terror, but an intriguing exercise.

Written for divento.com

Copyright © Ian Shuttleworth; all rights reserved.

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