Wing It

Every August, I’m mugged by Edinburgh and it’s stage-light robbery. Like every year, I haven’t had the guts to experience the epic Edinburgh Fringe Festival and test my theatre blogging strength. How could anyone resist a holiday of constant theatre?

I thought 2016 was going to be my year to take the Scottish plunge, but a greater challenge landed – two weeks in Hong Kong and South Korea!

With my annual leave and bank balance taking a direct hit, I’m left moping at home and my blog appears in the lonely theatre hearts column.

Scraping the theatre’s leftovers, August is always a good breakaway from the theatre circuit and concentrate on life. Amusing myself with the gym and working full time, I’m chilling until theatre kicks off again for a new season…until I received an invitation to watch The Collector at The Vaults, London. Feeling the butterflies, I was ready to add this play to Hello Emma Kay’s collection.

Frederick Clegg loves Miranda Grey.

Miranda Grey loves Frederick Clegg, she just doesn’t know it yet.

She has never met him, she has never spoken to him, but she will fall in love with him, Frederick will make sure of that, no matter what.

Adapted by Mark Healy from the classic novel by John Fowles, The Collector is the story of a lonely butterfly collector and his obsession with a beautiful art student. When Frederick comes into a large amount of money, he buys a deserted country house and makes preparations to accommodate a very special house guest.

The Collector fluttered gusts of disturbing wind. Like a butterfly thrashing against the glass, the play rattled the frightening reality of captivity. Darkly intense atmosphere, The Vaults is the perfect cocoon for Frederick’s hideout. With the echoes of the London Underground above, you beg for daylight and fresh air like Miranda. Immersed in this constrained space, The Collector netted the claustrophobic drama and the tense courtship of two strangers.

Daniel Portman and Lily Loveless in The Collector. Photo credit: Scott Rylander

Daniel Portman’s Frederick Clegg burned the romantic tale of girl meets boy. Frederick whipped his dust sheets back and his monologue forth. Feeling pretty spaced out, Frederick uncovered his hideout. Warming towards his chatty nature, you soon retreat as Miranda lays unconscious on the bed. Greeting the sight with emotional blankness, Frederick detached himself from normality and let these weird vibes hang. Reflecting the “Surprise! Look what I caught!”, Frederick doesn’t appear to be a violent threat. Drunk on love, it’s the quiet ones you have to watch out for!

Winging it as a threatening kidnapper, Frederick desperately pines for Miranda, obeying her shopping and bathroom demands. He aims to constantly please. An old head on young shoulders, Portman performs Frederick with gentlemanly insecurities, wanting approval from a young woman he wouldn’t stand a chance with. Plenty of entertaining “AWKS!” moments, his metamorphosis hatches from innocent vulnerability to a silent killer.

Daniel Portman in The Collector. Photo credit: Scott Rylander

Lily Loveless’ Miranda was the posh totty. Unsure about her sophisticated style at first, she soon stretched her wings and took The Collector into full flight mode. Providing mothballed, disastrous love, she craved the fresh air and demanded her release from her bunker. Desperate and failed attempts to break free, they were powerless against the confinement of loose dust sheets. Clipped and tugged along with rope, she was the butterfly of his (and ours) gaze. Feisty flirtation and drowning in despair, she accepts her fate to fall in love with Frederick. Whether this is pretence or truly felt, who knows!

Lily Loveless in The Collector. Photo credit: Scott Rylander

The Collector was a slow crawling caterpillar, but the happy-go-lucky TV starred duo combated against the stiff direction. Twisting emotions and unsettled silence, Portman and Loveless worked together to layer the production with icy predicaments and complications. The daily need for escape dashed any chances of sudden whirlwind romance, despite the forced intimacy. Like a first date gone wrong, Frederick and Miranda wine and dine under the stars floorboards. Frederick freaks and Miranda suffers the consequences.

With Frederick’s frustrated lack of sexual desire, his motives become confused, causing the action to pause and slump. Observing his fragility and appetite, Miranda is a totally loss cause, unknown to what she can provide and exchange, other than conversation and beauty. Frederick’s unexpected fury soon smashes the hideout and boasts a hidden strength. He creeps from his camouflage and finally reveals his true colours.

Daniel Portman and Lily Loveless in The Collector. Photo credit: Scott Rylander

The Collector is an interesting production, but nipped, not tore, the flesh of the crime. The mind games toe-dipped, not dived, into the complexities of the criminal mastermind. It was a showdown of young innocence which goes wrong, without any intention to cause real harm. The production intrigued the story of captivity, but a lost sense of maturity lacked a believable crime. The Collector murdered my butterflies, but pinned my thoughts on how the atmosphere of the venue and set design immersed the experience of these characters. Taking the London Waterloo breeze for granted, I valued my freedom to walk away from Frederick’s hideout.

Book your tickets for The Collector here. Ends on 28 August.

Big thanks to Chris Hislop!


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