This June Angela Carter’s Bloody Chamber (And Other Stories) will be reimagined for the stage by the Proteus Theatre Company at the Pavilion Theatre. For an hour and 20 minutes, the ensemble cast will take the audience on a journey through the macabre world of The Bloody Chamber (And Other Stories).
I had the pleasure of sitting down with cast member Lorraine Moynehan to discuss what audiences can expect from the show, and what it feels like to be putting on an in-person production.
Unfortunately, as with many events over the last year, the opening of The Bloody Chamber (And Other Stories) has been delayed. The cast had just entered rehearsals when the first lockdown hit. However, Lorraine has found a positive in this.
“In some ways, it’s been a luxury to have this amount of time to really build into it slowly,” she says, explaining that the lockdowns have allowed the cast to build up their stamina. “It’s very clean and very precise. We know exactly what we’re doing”.
The Proteus Theatre Company is working with experts from the circus industry to bring the piece to life. Lorraine describes the rehearsal process as “being very physical. For some of the parts, for example, a lot of the aerial stuff, we cannot even run it twice, and then we have to take a break.”
Lorraine has always had a love for the circus and like many of the cast members, she has prior experience.
“I do tutor at the National Centre for Circus Arts. Formerly, I did a lot of trapeze, and tight wire is kind of my specialization, which I’m not actually doing in the show”.
“We’re all relatively familiar with a lot of it,” she adds, however she reassures me that it doesn’t make it any less challenging!
For those unfamiliar, The Bloody Chamber (And Other Stories) was written by Angela Carter and first published in 1979. Carter’s intention was never to retell fairy tales but to “extract the latent content from the traditional stories”, and the stage version is no different.
“We have one main story, which is The Bloody Chamber,” she says. “The Bloody Chamber comes into it four times, [and] between that we take you on lots of different little pathways through the woods in these stories”.
The show itself is high energy and immersive, with the cast all performing multiple roles. Lorraine herself changes costumes 13 times throughout the show.
“We are all changing onstage,” she elaborates. “We’re not running off and changing then coming back on, it’s all part of what we’re doing.”
Her favourite costume is burlesque-inspired, where half of her costume is a woman, and the other half is a man. She admits that this is her most challenging role.
The feel of the show is something more “Weimar Germany” reveals Lorraine. Some of the movements are influenced by Pina Bausch, a German dancer and choreographer who developed a style known as “Tanztheater”, which is a blend of movement, sound, and prominent stage sets.
The gothic nature of the book The Bloody Chamber (And Other Stories) plays with the reader’s sense of reality and the stories’ settings, and the stage show takes this and runs with it.
“Things twist,” she explains. “Just as you think you have a handle on where something is going, it turns into something completely different.”
“You think it’s a mythical land a long time ago, and then suddenly the phone rings. It plays with where you are in time and space and location.”
Lorraine hopes that the audience will also feel those twists in the journey they go on whilst watching the show.
“Just as you start to feel familiar with everything it completely flips around.”
Carter is known for the feminist spin she puts on fairy tales and this has never been more relevant, as Lorraine illustrates: “It’s very pertinent to what’s happened this year, with women being able to go out and walk the streets safely on their own. Whether your walk is across the top of Clapham Common or all through some streets. It’s about what rights we have as women.”
There is still plenty of humour, warmth, and love within the show. Lorraine describes it as “so eclectic, and there’s some absolutely sinister stuff”. She wants audiences to “go home, have a really good think about it and come back and see it again because it’s so dense and there’s so much within it”.
“I think you can feel it on so many levels,” she adds. “I am so proud to be working on this.”
The Bloody Chamber (And Other Stories) opens 11 June, and promises to take the audience on a sinister but humorous journey. Tickets are available online now.
Words by Orla McAndrew
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