A glorious extravaganza of Gothic gore
by Dino Mahoney
IN Turgid Tales of Turmoil, Terror and Tortured Souls, Giles Davis invited us to face the dark forces within us through the medium of the one-man show.
Of course, we face these forces every time we open a newspaper and are confronted with reports on such horrors as ethnic cleansing in the former Yugoslavia, genocide in Rwanda, and even this newspaper's court reports.
This was a very literary evening. Davies delivered a medley of nine set pieces, mainly from the classics, and performed in an accomplished, high-acting style.
The pre-interval section of the show began with a half-hour compression of Macbeth, progressed to dramatic renditions of three dark poems, and ended with a gory gobbet from Shelley's Frankenstein.
The Macbeth was fascinating, with Davies slipping eerily between Macbeth and a mesmerising Lady Macbeth, a wonderful reminder of how - as in Shakespeare's time - it is perfectly acceptable for a man to play a complex female role to great effect.
All the poems were done well, the best being Vernon Scannell's home-alone piece about a boy who murders his cat. The Shelley was delicious, unabashed, eye-flaring Gothic as Davies, with lab coat and white marigolds, lifted a bloody heart from a silvery bucket.
In the second half, he was obliged to become progressively more hysterical to hit the high notes of horror which each successive set-piece demanded.
He really began to lose it when Old Nick, Nick Leeson of Barings that is, was invoked as a dark force. This invocation came in the introduction to an over-the-top piece about Native American witches. Stories of tossing beheaded babies into cauldrons, by this time, failed to shock - the audience was horror-fatigued.
The final piece was an awkward mix of theatrical genres as Davies lurched from a Victorian mode of dramatic rendition to a Jim Morrison-style poetic diatribe he wrote himself. It is dangerous to put one's scribblings alongside those of the masters.
The show could do with pruning: fewer set-pieces and with some pieces more developed. This, plus dropping the incongruous New Age message, would make for a spanking-good night of Gothic theatre in a fine, old thespian style. Turgid Tales of Turmoil, Terror and Tortured Souls, Fringe Club, January 30