I’m just in the door, soaking wet and miserable after cycling back from the NCH following my first escapade in this year’s ABSOLUT Fringe. A hardy bunch braved the wet weather to check out the preview of Roger Doyle’s A Room in the Tower; a soundtrack created for a horror film realised in imagination only. The music is both live and recorded, with a narrative written by Carlo Gébler and Doyle performs the piano, suitably attired for the 1800’s narrative in dressing robe and a wild white wig. There was something comical about the presentation of the work and I get the impression it was styled tongue-in-cheek, in a particular “fringe” fashion that simply wouldn’t work in another context.
Doyle’s score evokes moments of fearful anxiety, during which I realised that my own imagination has the power to terrify me far more than any of the faux horror imaginings of M. Night Shyamalan (and I include his Stuart Little period in that) or his ilk. Provided with only the promotional image, the audience was forced to use our imagination to embellish the narrative (spoiler alert!!), told in a strong male voice, of an ongoing nightmare and it’s realisation in his waking life.
Doyle took a simple theme and repeated it in variations including light narrative accompaniment; tension building; and dramatic conclusions of horror. There were moments when the particular variation of the theme didn’t work for me (in particular the penultimate recurring in Jamiroquai-esque electronics) but it also struck me that for every new image each variation brought to my mind, that was multiplied by the number of people in the audience. I imagine it was exactly what Doyle was aiming for that there were as many different films playing to his soundtrack as there were members in the audience.
At one point, about half-way through the performance, during a dramatic build-up with heavy breathing and moaning coming through the soundtrack, I was suddenly thrown back into a nightmare I had last night. I had completely forgotten about it and it was the fact that the story being told was quite uneventful, even boring, in itself, but it was the particular context and retelling that turned it into a horror that brought the nightmare flooding back into my mind. The performance was peppered with moments of revisiting various nightmares of my own and I feel this is the strongest point of Doyle’s performance – searching for the horrors that already exist in our own minds.
The Room in the Tower runs until Saturday and tickets are available online or at the door on the night.