REVIEW: THE RESURRECTIONIST (Etcetera Theatre) ★★★
Well, firstly, don’t expect a story with a deep message. This is a horror story stripped of most of it’s Hammer House of Horrors nonsense. No crudely stitched scars, no bolt through the neck and definitely no funny, stiff legged walk. So, what is it? It is a plain, good old fashioned chiller.
The play opens in Dr.Victor Darvell’s laboratory in his castle in Switzerland on the banks of Lake Geneva in 1816. Lord Byron, a guest, is very sad because his beloved servant, Blaize has just drowned in the reeds at the edge of the lake while out boating with Byron, who had tried, but was unable to save him. The servant’s body is brought, by the distraught Byron, into the laboratory and after a cursory examination of it’s temperature and degree of rigor mortis, Darvell is keen to try to bring him back to life. In this he succeeds by strapping the body to a convenient pre-constructed rack, injecting him with an unspecified fluid and shocking him back to life. The revived Blaize has almost no memory other than speech, reading and fundamentals. He remains physically unchanged, other than rather weird eyes. He has however become childlike and innocent.
Darvell warns Blaize that he must stay away from the nasty outside world, an instruction that he, in his childlike state, finds mystifying as he has done nothing wrong. After a period of time Blaize begins to feel the need for physical contact with someone, anyone. He begins to feel attracted to Byron’s wife, the beautiful Mary Shelley, however she is unsurprisingly rejects him. He is not a happy zombie.
A rumour starts to go around the local village that Blaize, who had been thought dead, was seen and recognised, standing in a field, getting a breath of fresh air. Soon the rather unpleasant Pastor Cornelius is leading a group villagers to the castle intent on doing away with the poor innocent. The finish is less dramatic than most Hammer Horror films but is still sad.
Mike Anfield excellently plays the nasty, cynical, Pastor Cornelius, he is experienced in theatre and radio and has appeared in the film Little Deaths. Along with theatre credits such as The Dead Shepherd and Sarcophagus (there appears to be a pattern forming in Mike’s repertoire).
Peter Dewhurst plays the misguided doctor Victor Darvell, in a strident, passionate fashion. He has appeared in a number of theatre productions including Shakespearian.
Blaize is played by the excellent Tom Everatt. He plays his part in a sad disillusioned way. Tom has appeared in many productions including King Lear at the Cockpit Theatre.
Samantha Kamras is an excellent, sexy, Mary Shelly, pretty but vulnerable. Samantha has the funniest lines and delivers them well. Her theatre credits are vast but with a preponderance of Shakespeare. Mark Shaer plays Professor Graber, Darvell’s old teacher and Tristan Rogers plays Lord Byron.
The theatre is located above the pub called The Oxford Arms, and is a nice, comfortable but small venue. The theatre stage is rather small to carry six principle actors at once and feels overcrowded at the denouement. Luckily the group of villagers never turn up! Sunday 9th October is the last production ofThe Resurrectionist in this run. Certainly worth a visit for horror buffs.
Reviewed by Graham Archer