Charles Delapore: Witness To A Great Evil, Or A Dangerous Madman?
The Rats in the Walls
Durham City Theatre
Thursday 28 - Sunday 31 July 2022
"I am sorry to wind you up in this. They put me away for what I know and they might do the same to you. But somebody has to tell the world of the rats. Scurrying rats whose scampering will never let me sleep. Demon rats that race now behind the padding of this room. You can destroy my home but you cannot destroy the evil that lies beneath. The rats! The rats! The rats in the walls!"
Locked in the cell of a brutal asylum, branded criminally insane, Charles Delapore has a visitor. He has a desperate tale to tell: one of the occult and mayhem covered up by authorities too scared to face the truth. How he himself foolishly dismissed the tales of winged devils and Satanic rituals. How the rats that only he can hear beckoned him down to the caves. How the caves revealed secrets more terrible than he could imagine. But the authorities say the only danger in Exham Priory comes from him. Who should the visitor believe? And who is this visitor?
Fresh from performances at Brighton Horrorfest and Buxton Fringe, Chris Neville-Smith brings a new solo play, a retelling of the H. P. Lovecraft story of the same name, transplanted from the wake of the Great War to the shadow of the Vietnam war. His previous performance, of Adrian Marks's Waiting for Gandalf, was nominated Best New Writing at its original run in 2014, and was commissioned by Mankind to be professionally performed at Brighton Fringe in 2018.
Chris Neville-Smith said: "I'd been looking for a new project to move on to, and this particular tale stood out for me. Lovecraft's works are heavily peppered with complex depictions of fantastical conspiracies and occult civilisations, but what I saw in The Rats in the Walls was a human tale. I've given this retelling a very different emphasis: the horrifying twist of the short story is still there, but my focus is one man's personal tragedy. I saw Delapore as a man, grieving for the loss of his son in a brutal war; where good intentions and a quest for personal fulfilment give way to dark thoughts of pride and revenge."
"I re-framed the story to the height of the Vietnam war as a perfect time in living memory when life was cheap and morals were hypocritical. The boldest opportunity, however, was telling the story from the lunatic asylum. Lovecraft's story never said who the story was being told to - I saw an opportunity to add one final shocking twist, which I can't wait the share with you."
The Rats in the Walls is running as part of Durham Fringe, returning after its launch in 2021. This year, the fringe is double the size of its inaugural year, with 57 acts over six days at the end of July. The City Theatre is hosting the most theatre performances, from student acts to groups making their last stop before Edinburgh. Chris Neville-Smith added: "It's going to be wonderful to see my home theatre playing host to such a variety of performers in a week, and I can't wait to be playing host to this."
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The Rats in the Walls runs at the City Theatre on 28th - 31st July at 4.15 p.m. Durham Fringe runs over the 26th - 31st July. Tickets for all Durham Fringe events are available from durhamfringe.co.uk