"Amazing physicality, mysterious and dark"
by Michael Spring for remotegoat on 20/03/15

A Boy in Darkness is a dramatised version of a novella by Mervyn Peake. Those who know perhaps The Gormenghast Trilogy will understand the murky and mysterious worlds that his imagination takes us to.

Not often will that dark imagination have been so fully realised in the theatre though, as in this production of A Boy in Darkness.

It is a one-man show, lasting seventy or so minutes and in that time, this blend of storytelling, physical theatre and performance provides as complete a production as is probably possible. The careful thought process is evident everywhere from the set (Martin Thomas is the designer) through to the gently threatening soundscape (Jon McLeod), the lighting (Fridthjofur Thorsteinsson), the direction (John Walton) and of course the performance itself, by Gareth Murphy, which is simply of the highest order.

It isn't often that a performer is called upon to play - more or less simultaneously - a fawning goat, a strutting hyena, a boy and a god. That is the challenge that Gareth Murphy rises to, in a piece of showmanship that blends Parkour with soliloquy and mime. It isn't so much that Gareth Murphy plays these characters - in every moment that he is on stage, he becomes them.

Every inch of the set is used - a simple performance square is there to denote confinement is at its centre, but there is a rough structure beyond and beyond that a misted mirror - and variously climbed upon, hung from, used as throne, bed and escape route.

A Boy in Winter demonstrates what exactly can be done in a small theatre. Get down to the Blue Elephant and see it.

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