“It was the winter of nineteen sixty four…” So begins The Horror Writer, written by Emily Gilmor Murphy and directed by Ciaran Gallagher. It is a play deeply anchored in the traditions of storytelling, and one which takes inspiration from the masters of unsettling horror and intrigue. Part horror story, part murder mystery, the production is primarily an ode to that favourite genre of story – tales about writers and the act of writing itself.
The highlight of the production comes in its central character, the elusive and eccentric Theo Byrne. Bryan Burroughs brings him to life, flicking effortlessly between the twenty two year old aspiring novelist, and his aged stiffened self. He is the epitome of the grumpy old codger, and yet, the naivety of his youth still rings true. This performance of one man across time allows the piece to flow as the story is told. The supporting cast of Sinead Keegan and Philip Arneill, orbit around him, although the stories of their characters feel somewhat lacklustre in comparison.
Perhaps one of the play’s weakest points is its treatment of Theo’s wife, the equally mysterious and elusive Marie. Although it is clear that the audience is meant to see her through Theo’s eyes, through the telling of his tale, there is something disappointing about the fact that she barely gets to tell her own parts of this story, her words filtered through Theo and his recollections.
Overall, The Horror Writer is an enjoyable night out, particularly in the dark winter evenings. For aficionados of the craft of horror writing, there is perhaps nothing new to see here, but the performances and the production itself, make this a performance worth checking out.
Review by Siofra Ni Shluaghadháin