|"a terrifying exercise in possession"|
by Aline Waites for remotegoat on 25/04/14
The art of suggestion is so frightening - so evil. But one doesn't have to be amnesiac to feel guilty about things you may not ever have done. Somebody once said that if a lie is repeated often enough and long enough it becomes true and Lucien Willow – a faultless army chaplain believes it completely and is driven insane by the false memories fed into him by the wicked Lord Brook played as a mixture of Cassius and Vlad the Impaler by Anthony John Crocker. Brook takes the unfortunate Lucien under his wing at his country estate so that he can watch over him and keep on feeding his false guilt. Oswald’s verse play was sparked off by a true incident about a British Army officer being charged with war crimes but turned into a really terrifying exercise in possession
Twenty years later Lucien is in a wheelchair, still with amnesia. Brook’s pretty daughter Sarah befriends the man and together they manage to work out the truth with some bizarre help. Oswald has exacerbated the horror and the comedy by using a trio of Fellini style circus people; A diminutive clown played by the truly wonderful actress and acrobat Alison Halstead; a comedy juggler/unicyclist with a appropriately expressive face Rupert Elford and the very beautiful Helen Aldrich as the Bearded Lady. They descend on the estate, welcomed by the evil landlord who has a weakness for circuses.
Sarah is played with vivacious charm and honesty by Victoria Lane and her impetuous German lover Wulf is given a wealth of tender passion and violent anger by Mark Gilham. The Star of this production is of course the victim Lucian Willow played on this occasion by Peter Oswald himself. He is a handsome man with goodness shining out of his face and he gives a terrific performance.
This is not a who dunnit or historical document – no point in trying to work out what is going on. You just have to allow yourself to be carried along by the beauty of the verse and the wonders that are being performed I front of you. Oswald’s verse is perfectly spoken by the sterling cast that has been assembled by Ray Shell who has given the production a surrealistic feel with extravagant movement and endless variation in tone.
Was enraptured throughout.
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