When is simply a amusement not a show? When it’s a publication tour, of course. Time was erstwhile publication tours were a happening authors did successful thinly populated branches of Waterstones. These days, astatine slightest erstwhile comedians are involved, they’re often important productions successful themselves, and – possibly – a means for lacking-match-fitness performers to borderline backmost towards the unrecorded stage. It would beryllium lush to deliberation this outing for the “horror writer and visionary doomscribe” Garth Marenghi, present to beforehand his caller caller TerrorTome, mightiness foretell a afloat signifier instrumentality for the antheral down Channel 4’s Darkplace. It is improbable though: his literate commitments are all-consuming. TerrorTome, helium tells us, is “volume 1 of perchance a 1000 volumes”.
I caught Marenghi’s publication circuit connected its London leg, nursing a anticipation determination mightiness beryllium much to the promised literate recital than met the eye. But Matthew Holness, the antheral down the mask, stayed existent to billing, with a archetypal fractional of excerpts from the book, and a 2nd fractional taking questions from his assembled fans. To beryllium fair, TerrorTome is identifiably successful the aforesaid code of dependable (the words pompous and preposterous; the vowels boringly flattened) that animated the man’s fondly remembered signifier work, which – portion much theatrically expansive – was ever narrated by this McGonagall of horror, whose each baroque operation tends towards a bathetic clunk.
Back then, with archetypal Fright Knight and past Netherhead – and Darkplace, successful owed people – Holness wasn’t alone, but moving with an estimable gathering of signifier talent. (This was a theatre arsenic overmuch arsenic a drama phenomenon.) Richard Ayoade, of course. Alice Lowe, excessively often overlooked erstwhile pistillate winners of the Edinburgh drama grant are totted up. Paul King, who went connected to nonstop the Paddington movies, among different accomplishments. Collectively, they enactment (torn and bloody) soma connected the bones of Marenghi’s leaden prose, and added duff, dopey theatricality to the duff, dopey penning that formed the show’s earthy material.
Occasionally, we miss that level of stagecraft here. Holness/Marenghi has not recruited an MC for the Q&A: “I don’t judge successful paying radical to interrogation me.” He does it himself for a bit, successful dialog with his ain pre-recorded dependable connected a crappy portion recorder (a prop that does dense comic lifting passim the show). Then an assemblage subordinate is recruited to the role. Which is fine: Holness is sharp, and his conception of the quality truthful involved, that this treatment conception can’t assistance but beryllium amusing. (Your proposal for writer’s block, Mr Marenghi? “Write done it.”) But Marenghi is besides brusque and dismissive, which makes for a stop-start discussion. A amended moderator mightiness person helped it fly. Dean Learner, perhaps? Alas, “Dean is serving time.”
But I’m nit-picking. Judge the TerrorTome publication circuit for what it is, and it’s large fun. The character’s mythology is truthful affluent now, it’s a show successful itself – I peculiarly enjoyed the inventory of titles with which helium recalls his play arsenic a specializer successful skin-disease horror. And the clash betwixt Marenghi’s self-seriousness and the crumminess of the prose is simply a acquisition that keeps connected giving.
Tonight’s readings recount fictional fearfulness writer Nick Steen’s adventures with a cursed typewriter, with which helium develops a torrid if improbable intersexual relationship. These man-on-keyboard erotic encounters are purple and bluish successful adjacent measure; truthful excessively the saucy goings-on with Nick’s cause Roz (“she rode maine similar a butcher’s cutting machine”) successful the last excerpt. One marvels astatine Marenghi’s tangled intersexual subconscious, which would confound the doughtiest shrink – assuming anyone could beryllium recovered to instrumentality connected the job. Little uncertainty that TerrorTome is the Christmas contiguous you request for that horror-loving – oregon comedy-loving – idiosyncratic successful your life. And successful the meantime, dreams (or should that beryllium nightmares?) of a afloat Marenghi revival, each collaborators intact, indispensable wait.