I’ve now added HP Lovecraft to the list of authors whose books I have seen become theatre. He’s in the good company of Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaimen which indicates how short and niche that list really is.
Tonight was a one-man show of “At the Mountains of Madness” by the Icarus Theatre group. There isn’t a lot of horror on the stage at the best of times so I decided to give the opening night a visit.
The cast was Tim Hardy, a RADA Director and RSC veteran, supported by recorded voices played through the on-stage radio set. For over an hour, Tim becomes William Dyer, the leader of an ill-fated expedition Antarctic expedition, trying to convince us of the folly of visiting the southern continent again.
As Tim is the only person on stage, he’s the focus of the audience’s attention the whole time without any breaks or scene changes. After a while, you realise how good the acting is when you notice how engrossed you are in the story. There are only a handful of props and all the events of the story are described, rather than displayed, so it’s pretty much like a radio drama where the pictures are vividly projected in your head.
The group held a Q&A afterwards (as it was the first show) which went well. Theo Holloway (sitting between Tim and Max Lewendel, the director) came up with the idea of putting the book on the stage and managed the production, sound and music.
Tim was not at all familiar with Lovecraft’s work, which he felt came in handy as he wasn’t at all precious about cutting away at the script to get something that would work on the stage. This obviously worked as the play definitely still had the right feel. Lovely guy, Tim. Very pleasant to listen to.
The show is now on tour around the UK until mid-May and well worth your time.
Flyer artwork (from the Icarus Theatre website):