Irish company Big Telly gives Melmoth the Wanderer its theatrical debut at the Edinburgh Fringe 2013

This article is from 2013

Melmoth the Wanderer

credit: Peter Nash

Charles Maturin's novel is a Gothic condemnation of the Catholic Church

Oscar Wilde’s uncle, Irish cleric and party animal Charles Maturin, wrote Melmoth the Wanderer in 1820. It’s strong stuff, a Gothic condemnation of the Catholic Church with a Faust-influenced hero who sells his soul to the devil and then decides he wants it back. Edgar Allan Poe loved it, as did Dostoevsky and Maturin’s more famous nephew.

Irish company Big Telly dials up the creepy in this acclaimed production, the first ever theatrical adaptation of the book. Everyone apart from Melmoth is in a crude, slightly oversized mask. It’s broad-brushstroke theatre: fast, visual, physical, with lots of bangs, flashes and big laughs as well as shivers, all done in the surrealist Irish tradition. And all with a dark love story at the heart.

The company describes it as ‘Saw meets Fawlty Towers meets Flann O’Brien on a dark, dark night’. There is cannibalism, torture, sacrifice, as well as Spanish monks, squeaky toys and a table of death. Shame Oscar is not around to see his uncle’s masterwork reach the stage: sounds very much his thing.

The Assembly Rooms, 0844 693 3008, 2–25 Aug (not 6, 13), 4.10pm, £15 (£12). Preview 1 Aug, £14 (£11).

Melmoth the Wanderer

Melmoth the Wanderer

Joyful choir practice hijacked by tormented despot turns into a random playground of the bizarre, with tragic and surprisingly hilarious consequences. Masks, dodgy German accents and a table of death. Scary bits, sad bits, funny as hell. Performed by the Big Telly Theatre Company.