Heart of Darkness
Scandal and Gallows Theatre
As far as one-man shows go, Joseph Conrad's tale of creeping horror and ever-present sense of the uncanny is one of the more ambitious works to try and squeeze into a mere hour's performance.
So it was with some trepidation that I entered into that unwritten contract between audience and actor; it was with far greater feelings of genuine respect and admiration that I exited the dark and sweaty room where Guy Clark had led me through the jungle into the Heart of Darkness.
The coursing tale of boyish naivety turned into cynical despair through the course of a steamboat journey up the Congo River is one that should need little introduction.
As young Marlow seeks out the vanished company agent Kurtz, Guy Clark expertly portrays the moments where the conflicts of late 19th century imperialism brush against the native peoples of that land and find their own savagery far worse than that they ascribe to the black men of that nation.
Especially in these more enlightened times, the resonances between the racism of those days and the modern all-too-terrible troubles seem highlit but never dwelt upon.
Maddie Skipsey's simplicity of staging and direction means that the focus of the audience's attention is always on Clark's words and his ever more fraught and wild-eyed performance.
It's a smart and concise adaptation, retaining every ounce of nuance in Conrad's gripping and twisted descent along the path to madness. Make note, readers, great things will come of this company.
Reviewer: Graeme Strachan