by Mark Healy
from the novel by John Fowles.
3 Stars ***
The Vaults to 28 08 16
Leake Street, London SE1 7NN to 28 August 2016.
Tues- Sunday 7.30pm.
Runs 2hr One interval.
TICKETS: 02078 401 9603.
Review: William Russell 4 August.
Nice performances but less than perfect play
It’s based on the novel by John Fowles, a fairly pretentious piece about the kidnapping and imprisonment of a young girl in the cellar of his remote home by a disturbed young man. Mark Healy’s 1998 play has surfaced several times before, notably at the Arcola and in the Edinburgh fringe. The trouble is that the construction of the novel really does not lend itself to being effectively dramatised and this version involves some rather stilted monologues by the two characters.
They are delivered by Frederick, a not very well educated and very prim, virginal former employment exchange clerk, a newly rich pools winner, whose hobby is collecting butterflies. Miranda, the abducted girl, an art student, delivers her own in turn, and then we get revelations through her diary which Frederick finds after her death.
What works on the page, the telling of the tale by the different characters, makes for a very awkward piece of theatre and director Joe Hutton has found no ways round the problems Healy’s dramatisation presents.
However Daniel Portman, a Game of Thrones alumnus, gives a very touching performance as Frederick, conjuring up his essential innocence – he simply wants to possess this beautiful creature he has stalked for months, but not to do anything sexual – although he would love to marry her. He suggests Frederick’s growing madness, his inability to cope with every day life, and makes his refusal to do anything when Miranda falls ill perfectly sensible from his point of view.
As Miranda, a well educated rather pretentious Slade School student, Lily Loveless from Skins copes effectively with a far less well written role and at one point seems to have turned the tables on her captor.
It is gripping enough in thriller terms, but the reason for going is the performances. Fowles had a theory about the society of the time being one in which prosperity was becoming more widespread and as a result power had fallen into the hands of those intellectually unsuited to handle it. Healy gives a cat and mouse battle between captor and captive in its place.
Frederic Clegg: Daniel Portman.
Miranda Grey: Lily Loveless.
Director: Joe Hufton.