The Collector at the Vaults Theatre
A chilling story of obsession and abduction, John Fowles’ 1963 novel is powerful in whatever format it is presented. Adapted for the stage by Mark Healy, and directed by Joe Hufton, The Collector sees the protagonist address the audience directly as he relates, and attempts to justify, the reasons that led him to kidnap a girl. The two complex characters of the play are brought to life by Daniel Portman and Lily Loveless, best known for their roles in Game Of Thrones and Skins, respectively.
Frederick Clegg collects butterflies and leads a lonely existence. A lottery win gives him the chance to buy a house and everything he has ever wanted. To complete the picture, he would like the presence of Miranda, a stranger he observes from afar whom he believes to be the love of his life. Convinced that a conventional approach to get to know her would be unsuccessful, he captures the middle-class art student as he would a butterfly, and keeps her in the basement as a “guest” with the intention of making her fall in love with him.
Intriguing and disturbing, Fowles’ thriller deals with the power struggle between social classes and genders, but it also throws ambiguity on what insanity really means. While the play’s attempt to show Miranda’s viewpoint is somewhat stifled and the intricacy of the original plot is sometimes reduced to simplified exchanges, the intensity of Miranda’s experience can be fully felt. Considering the elaborate dynamics of the story, this is perhaps the best that an adaptation of The Collector can provide.
The Vaults Theatre is the perfect venue for this production as the arched performance space, reached through underground tunnels, immediately evokes the damp and claustrophobic feel of the basement where Miranda is kept. The stage resembles a storage room fully stocked with everything that a “guest” may need during a prolonged stay. The mood is intimate yet chilling, but the theatre is spacious enough and atmospheric: the overall set-up makes for a unique and totally engaging experience.
Beyond the sinister vibe that keeps the plot alive in every moment, the play challenges the audience to look beyond the surface and acknowledge the seeds that go on to form a person’s identity, thus providing plenty of food for thought.
The Collector is on at the Vaults Theatre from 2nd until 28th August 2016, for further information or to book visit here.