Edinburgh Fringe: ALEISTER CROWLEY A Passion for Evil ****

C Central Venue 54, Carlton Hotel North Bridge

6 – 28 Aug (not 22nd or 23rd)  16:15hrs  TICKETS

Aleister Crowley was better know as “the wickedest man in the world”, the Great Beast but he saw himself as the greatest poet since Shelley and much more than a conjurer who pulled rabbits out of hats.

He had been brought up by his father as one of the Plymouth Brethren and delighted to hear his dad preach the Word of God each Sunday.  This play suggests that he turned his back on these teachings when his father died when he was eleven.  He was deeply and adversely affected by well-meaning Brethren who said ‘Praise the Lord’ as his dad was carried out of the house to sit on the Right Hand of God.

He decided to become the greatest sinner the world had known.  Instead of serving God he made an art out of blasphemy. Instead of the Black Book – the Bible – he would write his own Book of Law. Instead of unquestioning devotion to a god, he would espouse his own philosophy of self love, in the slogan ‘Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the Law’.

Crowley was a complex character who claimed that he could summon the ancient Egyptian deity Horus. This one-man production takes the form of reminiscences of his life as a young boy, a mountaineer, a traveller to Egypt, his touring magic show in the north of England and as the founder of an Abbey of Thelema in Sicily.

Was he really the Great Beast or just a charlatan with a flair for publicity? John Burns, the writer and star of this compelling production brings this colourful character to life but the question of whether the real Crowley was a charlatan, a devil or a prophet is left hanging. You decide.

Reviewed by David Kerr

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