Old Fire Station Blog

News, happenings and goings on from the Old Fire Station, Oxford

What Became of Harley Warren?

New playwright/director (and friend) Russell Anderson’s latest work is an adaptation of ‘The Statement of Randolph Carter’ by H. P. Lovecraft, and provided some genuine scares, as well as a smattering of well-timed laughs.

An early 4th wall breaking scene which turned us from the audience of a play into the students in a lecture about Cryptozoology (which mildly irked me as Warren begins by talking about mythical creatures as being possible real entities which have been shrouded in myth but then confuses matters by honing in on a necrous Egyptian demigod which seems out of place) during which we are given the meta advice “sometimes a story is greater than it’s proof”.

That seemed true of this play, competently acted by the small cast, slightly am-dramish and curiously paced, yet which drew one into it’s post-Great War world of biblioarcheologists and hideous secrets with charm and erudition.

Harley Warren- Image

Some notes bummed – why did the detective character keep leading the Watson-like character of Carter into further lengthy expositions? Why did he care about the personality of the missing Warren, who often seemed like a remodelled Holmes? And a strange scene about Carter’s brother James’ failed to deliver the emotional punch it was intended to.

That said, it also had some great laughs from the mutable 3rd man who’s line as a station conductor, “where’re you going then? Romania? Good Luck!” got some well-earned chuckles as did his repeated exclamations as the detective of “what the Hell was that?” and “I’m running this show” which seemed very apt as his character dragged us from flashback to flashback.

I got involved and tried to second guess the puzzles along the way, my guess of the drowned city of Herculaneum as the location of the missing elixir of life was confounded by a much funnier and more prosaic one… Romney Marsh!

Production highlights were the use of eerie voice overs and sound effects, excellent reusable cabinets which became libraries, corridors, and a market place (and reminded me of stage magic in the beautifully choreographed way they were transformed in front of us) and creative use of simple lighting to create the illusion of bombs, tombs and exotic lands.

With shades of Faust, the original script captured  the Lovecraftian language perfectly; overall an excellent exploration of immortality and immorality.

 Re:Conception Theatre

This post was written by dot23x

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This entry was posted on July 7, 2014 by in Review, Theatre and tagged , , , , , , .
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