Heart of Darkness (4 stars)

Conrad's vision of hell unleashed in compelling monologue


This article is from 2015.

Heart of Darkness

George Johnston's adaptation of Joseph Conrad's classic novella is a simply staged, compelling journey into the Congo, where colonialism and savagery collide. Using lyrical prose, three large vintage chests and mood lighting (purple being most evocative) this is a breathless, beautifully performed monologue which veers from wide-eyed optimism to sheer terror at the desperation, institutional racism and cannibalism, comparing the greedy colonisation of Africa to the last days of the Roman empire.

The psychopathic ivory trader and self-appointed demi-god Colonel Kurtz is of course central to the young narrator's shuddering realisation of how far into the nightmare he has strayed. Guy Clark, taking on Kurtz, Marlow and many others, is a very kinetic performer,captivating throughout as his shadow is cast on the wall, suggesting a foreboding future. Highly versatile at voices (bar the less assured Scottish one) he inhabits the panoply of characters with a raised eyebrow, unsure smile or sneer.He even takes on the role of Kurtz's widowed wife, lightening his voice in a sympathetic portrayal of a woman in denial, who wants to hear that her dead husband was a heroic and decent man.

A visceral, intelligent piece of theatre – Scandal and Gallows are a very promising young company indeed.

Space Triplex, until Sat 29 Aug, 8.15pm £8–£6.

This article is from 2015.

Heart of Darkness

  • 4 stars

Scandal and Gallows Theatre ★★★★★ (Tab.co.uk). ‘Captivating’ ★★★★ (TCS.cam.ac.uk). ‘A brilliant translation of Conrad’s haunting parable’ ★★★★ (Varsity.co.uk). In Edinburgh after a successful Cambridge run, this is Conrad’s famous novel – the inspiration for Ford Coppola's Apocalypse Now – adapted into an epic one-man…


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