the collector2

For most women, being the house-guest of a lottery winner who brings you breakfast in bed, buys you artwork and jewellery, and answers to your every need, would be a dream come true. In Miranda Grey’s case, it may just be her worst nightmare. Entomologist Frederick Clegg is unequivocally in love with Miranda, and she has no idea. ‘The Collector’ follows the unfolding events of this unlikely pair as they learn to live with each other in a remote country house. Will she become a permanent addition to his collection, or will she be able to fly free…?

‘The Collector’, written by Mark Healy, based on the novel by John Fowles, is currently running at The Vaults theatre, Waterloo. Directed by Joe Hufton, this show not only utilises a static set, but it also embraces its location in a genius way. Being underground, beneath the train tracks of the bustling station above made this play something special. Without spoiling the plot, the theatre’s location adds to the atmosphere of feeling oppressed, down-trodden and hungry for fresh air. The rhythmic sounds of the trains rolling along the tracks are not invasive at all; it sounds exactly like the pulsing of a human heartbeat, and only adds to the intensity of this play.

Starring Daniel Portman, best known as Podrick Payne in HBO’s Game Of Thrones, and Lily Loveless of Channel 4’s Skins, this psychological thriller is an extraordinary piece and filled with plenty of twists and turns.

Portman is an exceptional performer and handles this role with a deep, dark intensity. It was never going to be easy to create a psychopathic character the audience can warm to, but Portman manages to create a man whom we not only feel a deep sympathy for, but whom we actually quite like. His character, Frederick Clegg, breaks the fourth wall on numerous occasions to narrate through scene changes. He was unafraid to make eye contact with audience members during these sections, and in such an intimate venue, attention like that sends a shiver down your spine.

As Miranda Grey, Lily Loveless was excellent. Her physicality is very ‘handsy’; every sentence was spoken with her hands and arms as much as her voice. At times, this was a little distracting, particularly in more intense moments of Act I, however by Act II, there was a greater sense of stillness to her character, and she shone. She spoke with great clarity and gave a very emotive and dramatic performance.

Together, Portman and Loveless share a remarkable chemistry. In a lengthy piece of drama like this, with only two actors, it’s a long ol’ night, but the two share a great energy and feed off each other beautifully.

‘The Collector’ is a unique and brilliant thought-provoking piece. It’s unrelenting, harrowing and poignant: masterfully done.

Reviewed by Harriet Langdown
Photo: Scott Rylander

THE COLLECTOR plays at The Vaults until 28 August 2016