Sunday, January 18, 2009


Nunkie Theatre Company at the Cramphorn


Robert Lloyd Parry is the epitome of M R James's “Cambridge man”. We discover him in his dimly lit rooms – chiaroscuro of which Caravaggio would be proud – stooped and shrouded in his wing chair. Open tomes lie tumbled at his feet. In the distance, the chapel choir sings Evensong.

But as soon as he emerges from his decongestant cure, his restless form engages us in the author's first essay in the supernatural, Canon Alberic's Scrapbook. Glasses glinting in the candlelight, he embodies the nervous sacristan and the curious Englishman, and uncannily evokes the night monsters as the candles are extinguished one by one.

This story is linked to the more famous Mezzotint – the tale of a poor engraving of an Essex Manor House which eerily plays out the tragic events leading to the death of a child, the last of the Anningley line.

Making good use of his profile and his eloquent hands, Lloyd Parry manages to involve every member of the audience in a performance which is intimate and almost improvised, though remarkably faithful to these hundred-year-old texts. And like the Professor of Morphology in the first story, we may scarcely dare to put out the light before going to sleep.

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