Heart of Darkness: Review

by Michelle Rawlins

Reviewed at cast, Doncaster and now touring nationally

Joseph Conrad’s iconic novel, has been dramatically adapted for the stage in this powerful performance that will make you look at modern day Europe in a whole new light.

The underlying theme of capitalism and imperialism are still present, but instead of leading the audience down a journey through the Congo to the heart of Africa, it takes them on a bleak and harrowing drive through a post war dystopian Europe where oppressive concentration camps have been turned into factories for the terrified powerless masses.

The parallels with Conrad’s 1899 novel are still ever frighteningly present and the stellar five man cast, who not only play their traditional parts to an exceptional standard, also adopt a secondary role whereby they interrogate the original literary work and later film, Apocalyspe Now, staring Martin Sheen, and bring it forward to show a new form of dictatorship.

In this contemporary version, the story follows an African female detective, who retains the name Marlow. She is hired to travel to the heart of darkness, which in this interpretation happens to be London, to bring back the out of control rogue agent Kurtz (Matt Prendergast). Whereas Africa seems to have recovered from Colonialism, a stark and desolate Europe we would struggle to recognise is under the control of greedy dictators. During the hazardous and disturbing journey, Marlow – played by the incredibly compelling Keicha Greenidge – witnesses brutality, death and oppression in its most severe forms. Workers are slaves, dead bodies hang from ruler’s grounds and the once vibrant green land is barren.

What is so terrifying about this dramatic piece of theatre, is how you are left questioning how easy it would have been, and still could be under the wrong control, for our modern democratic society to be thrown into turmoil one again – especially when images of Nigel Farage and Boris Johnson (in his Union Jack skydiving attire) appear.

The superior technical elements must also be noted as three screens ominously suspend above the stage revealing scenes from Apocalypse Now, interviews with director Francis Ford Coppola and actor Dennis Hopper, as well as intense close up scenes from the play itself. 

Under the direction of Andrew Quick and Pete Brooks, the exemplary actors’ intense performances ensure this powerful and dark production leaves you utterly compelled from start to finish. 

Tickets: www.imitatingthedog.co.uk Twitter: @imitatingthedog

Photos by Ed Waring

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