Wednesday, 30 April 2014

Angela Carter: in the arms of the White Bear

It's an uncanny feeling, caught between the sweet dusty texture of talcum power and the lush aroma of meat stew. It's a step into Angela Carter's Bloody Chamber, and no-one can pass through that unchanged.   
 
Close up of the set for "The Lady of the House of Love".
Stage design by Natalie Parsons
Image credit: SM Jenkin
The White Bear theatre in Kennington is running an Angela Carter double bill The Tigers Bride and The Lady of the House of Love until Saturday, 03 May. Both stories, originally featured in The Bloody Chamber, are produced by MISK theatre productions.

Though each story only took half an hour, each managed to throw up a dreamlike world, inhabited by recognisable characters grappling with desire. Sensuality battles with experience, with innocence and with hunger. Both deal with a character caught in a limbo of sorts, living in a wasteland and waiting for something to set them free. And for both their prayers are answered with what is needed perhaps,  but with very different results. Was it the fairy tale setting that lulled me into that state of mind? I do not know. If you set your critical mind aside, you will enjoy the atmosphere of expectation, that feeling of suspense. That feeling that anything could happen.

On her book Angela Carter said this, "My intention was not to do 'versions' or, as the American edition of the book said, horribly, 'adult' fairy tales, but to extract the latent content from the traditional stories and to use it as the beginnings of new stories."

This production managed to create those stories anew. Go and see it.