Three sinister wide-eyed Victorian dolls with rosy-apple cheeks create endless mischief in Kingston University theatre company’s revival of The Intruder, due to open at the Edinburgh Festival this month. The curtain goes up on the new production of Maurice Maeterlinck’s darkly comic play and its twelve strong cast on 18 August in front of audiences at the city’s Hill Street theatre.
The Belgian playwright’s nineteenth-century Adams Family classic tells the tale of an oddball family and how they cope with tragedy as it unfolds all around them. The University’s theatre company KUDOS will perform the play with two different casts appearing on alternate days, giving their own subtly different interpretations of the playwright’s original.
The Edinburgh-bound production has been a collaborative effort with director and actors feeding off each other. “Maeterlinck didn’t give us a clear chain of events, so we’ve interpreted his directions quite freely,” said director Steph Taylor. “We’ve turned it from a spooky gothic tale into a comical production with a dark edge. It’s an offbeat play that’s ideal to perform at Edinburgh’s fringe” she said.
The action revolves around the relationships between the family’s three daughters, their father, auntie and grandfather. When death strikes, an air of madness begins to take hold and the characters transform into freakish parodies of themselves. “It’s a manic play that builds pace as time speeds up,” assistant director Sara Flint said. “The characters grow throughout, making them larger than life, exaggerating their emotions as events overwhelm them,” she said.
The rarely performed play, which has been in rehearsals for four months, involves the audience throughout. “There are moments when we plunge the theatre into complete darkness, to heighten their senses,” Sara Flint said. Actor Mathew Dye, who plays one of the grandfathers said it was very energetic production. “It really is physical theatre and you have to be quite fit,” he said. “There are no props, so we have to make use of the whole space, and we lift and throw each other around a lot.”
Charlotte Johnson, who plays one of the aunties, said the cast have really given it their all. “It’s been great for us as actors because we’ve been on a very long leash,” she said. “We’ve been able to give our own input to help shape the show and that’s been very rewarding.”
The Intruder can also be seen on its return from Edinburgh at Kingston University in late September.