Melmoth The Wanderer
- Alex Johnston
- 1 February 2012
Stage adaptation of Charles Maturin’s 1820 epic, sardonic shaggy dog
The Northern Irish company Big Telly Productions has a taste for adapting unruly texts such as Spike Milligan’s manic novel Puckoon. Their latest production is an adaptation by Nicola McCartney of Charles Maturin’s 1820 novel Melmoth the Wanderer. An epic, sardonic shaggy dog of a book, it made its author famous and was parodied by Balzac, raved about by Baudelaire and gleefully plagiarised by Lautréamont.
Melmoth is a sinister Englishman who brings death and despair in his wake, but who can’t seem to die himself. Artistic director Zoe Seaton reckons that the novel, for all its Gothic horror conventions, has much to tell us: Melmoth ‘is both tempter and tempted – how far will he go to escape the consequences of his actions? How much is he prepared to suffer? How do you stop a cycle of evil?’ (Yes, Simon Cowell, how?) A chorus of ‘half-masks’ tells the story: ‘We were totally engaged by these complete idiots who bring irresistible comedy and utter anarchy to any situation.’ Given our current fascination with vampires, Maturin’s darkly funny tale of damnation and destiny sounds timely; Big Telly, with their focus on the ‘theatrical, visual, entertaining, physical and funny’ seem well placed to stage it.
Tron Theatre, Glasgow, Wed 22–Sat 25 Feb