heart stage

Heart of Darkness

B2 Belgrade Theatre


Some books are stuck in their context and time. Some books should simply be left to fester. Is Heart of Darkness one of those?

What is interesting about this adaption of Joseph Conrad’s chilling masterpiece is that, within the drama, this very question is given prominence.

Five actors from Imitating the Dog, justly renowned for interesting and innovative work, play all the parts in this complex tale which is being delivered for a new audience in graphic film style by two narrators/film directors Morven Macbeth and Laura Atherton, with the film delivered through complex video arrangements above the stage.

Stanley Kubrick chose the same challenge within Apocalypse Now in setting the text within America’s failed war in Vietnam. Imitating the Dog chose to be more radical and change far more and, usefully, including the process and decision-making within their narrative.

Gosh, that sounds so dry and academic. What you have, both within the book and here on the stage, is a life or death struggle played out to find the reasons behind colonialism in Africa. Was it bald racism, bold greed, was colonialism itself or European attitudes to capital and labour that brought Africa to its knees?

Keicha Greenidge, a black woman, plays Charlie Marlow, private investigator. She is commissioned by Morgan Bailey’s character in Kinshasa, Belgian Congo as was, to find just one of the psychotic greed-mongers, Kurtz (Matt Prendergast).

The river has become the road, the drama a road movie where Matt Prendergast also plays Berensdorf, the silent and traumatised driver whose children are in one of the many forced labour camps.

As the development of the film continues, the actors play out not only the narrative but also the contentious areas within the text and make decisions based on group dynamics. It is a democratic process that, like a dog with a bone, delivers a table-turning adaption that has plenty to chew over, plenty to muse, plenty to enjoy. To 11-05-19.

Jane Howard


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