Sunday, 16 October 2016

Review Mountains Of Madness

Carolin Kopplin explores the strange world of cult science fiction writer HP Lovecraft and finds thrills in a dramatisation of a classic horror story.

Mountains of Madness
by H.P. Lovecraft, adapted by TL Wiswell

Land That Time Forgot

The London Horror Festival has found its new home at the Old Red Lion Theatre. The UK's original and largest festival of horror in the performing arts has scared audiences since 2011, celebrating suspense, originality, and the macabre.

T. L. Wiswell's adaptation of cult science fiction writer HP Lovecraft's 1931 novella brings to the stage the nightmarish fate of  a geological expedition to the Antarctic from which few of the researchers returned.

Six years later, Dr. Willa Dyer (Sasha Wilson), the leader of the expedition,  shares the disturbing secret of what happened in those regions in the hope of deterring another team of explorers who aim to go to the same "cryptic world of frozen death".

Playwright TL Wiswell's reimagining of the classic story transforms the explorers into female scientists and moves the action back to the 1920s in a 50-minute piece which is clearly a labour of love for director Lorenzo Peter Mason. 

The apparently rational structure of  a college science lecture draws the audience into disquieting events as Dyer relates how, beyond a hitherto unknown mountain range higher than The Himalayas, her expedition members discover not only ancient ruins but also a dangerous secret.

Their discoveries take them beyond the boundaries of known science with life forms unidentifiable as plants or animals but, far more devastatingly, they also find both researchers and dogs left at their camp slaughtered..

Dr. Dyer's suspenseful recollection of the events during the ill-fated journey is aided by Peabodie (Natalie Morgan) and Danforth (Libby Grant), two members of the research team. 

Chilling sound effects from Keri Danielle Chesser, as well as slide projections and inventively ghoulish makeup prove effective in transporting the audience from the lecture room to an icy hell.  

Director Lorenzo Peter Mason's production is beautifully designed by Anna Sances and clearly influenced by silent film. An amber/green light and a must for any Lovecraft fan.

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