HP Lovecraft spent his life haunted by harsh, unrelenting demons. Their tentacles wrapped him in fear, pushed him into poverty and filled his brain with horrors that found expression in some of the world’s greatest works of weird fiction. American actor David Crawford, of Dawn of the Dead fame, portrayed Lovecraft and we experienced him fighting his demons and transforming them into a world he could inhabit.
David entertained us with his one person show in period costume and through his ‘channelling’ of Lovecraft, we experience HP as a child and later as a married man who eventually drifts into an isolation which pushes him into a space where he can exorcise out his demons through his stories.
David called up Lovecraft’s demons and the legend himself. This was a warmly intimate encounter and I greatly enjoyed the performance. Mr Crawford did a brilliant job of portraying H P Lovecraft in various stages throughout his life. I particularly enjoyed the resonant and rich voices he uses when portraying the sundry characters of his tales.
I must say I was sat quite enthralled as he wove in and out of the different characters down to the smallest grunt, the inflection in his voice and the mere parlance bringing the scenes to life. Eventually as he winds us through HP’s life, he divulges the story of the “Shadow over Innsmouth”, and I relished this most.
Howard Phillips Lovecraft created the Cthulhu Mythos, an imposing and horrific intricate world of ancient gods that was very unique to Lovecraft and to Horror literature at the time. Cthulu, Azathoth, and Yog-Sothoth are the ancient ones at the heart of the Lovecraft stories. He was ahead of his time and had a considerable influence on modern horror films in many ways. His was a difficult childhood, and he suffered from depression. He was a recluse and seems to have lived socially through his correspondences with many people around the world.
Both of Lovecraft’s parents died in a mental hospital, and it is believed that he was concerned with having inherited a predisposition to physical and mental degeneration. This was a common pre-occupation at the time amongst eugenicists and it is this pre-occupation suggested in the plot of Innsmouth. Lovecraft explores themes of Cosmicism and the idea that one’s mind deteriorates when he is afforded a glimpse of what exists outside his perceived reality. In the opening sentence of “The Call of Cthulhu“, Lovecraft relates, “The most merciful thing in the world, I think, is the inability of the human mind to correlate all its contents.” And perhaps here, he is struggling with his own inner demons and mental health as he delivers his gifts to future generations of the horror genre.
“The Shadow of Innsmouth“ was written from November to December of 1931 and was twice rejected by Weird Tales. Subsequently, it was published as a bound booklet in April of 1936. This will become the only fiction of Lovecraft’s published during his lifetime that did not appear in a periodical. He based the town of Innsmouth on Newburyport Massachusetts where he had visited before, and most recently in the fall of 1931 around the time he was writing the story.
David Crawford’s rendition of Lovecraft’s Monsters was held at The Wee Pub and it was an intimate venue quite well suited for the show, however the seats were not very comfortable, and I would suggest couches and arm chairs might be a nice touch to bring us even closer into this performance.
We were delighted to be able to sit down with David following his performance and have a brief chat after the show. David tells us he was asked to do this show in Pittsburgh and from there he decided to bring it to the Fringe. This production is something of a fluid work in progress with David refining and re-working as he performs his 50 minutes with Lovecraft’s Monsters with us. Mr Crawford was a lovely and warm host and we enjoyed the conversation with him as we bantered about ideas which he could add to the show.
This is from David Crawford on the Lovecraft’s Monsters’ Facebook page about the production:
“I’m incorporating a lot of smaller ideas into the show now. My favourite at the moment is letting Lovecraft drift into delirium at the end. He sees some of his monsters and says things like “Reynolds”, which was a word that Poe shouted as he lay dying. And of course his last words are the Tail of the Dragon from ‘The Case of Charles Dexter Ward.’”
David is an actor, known for his role as Dr Foster in Dawn of the Dead (1978), Lady Beware (1987) and What Rats Won’t Do (1998). He has also performed a similar type of show about the life of Edgar Allan Poe in addition to his Lovecraft’s Monsters production. I hope we will see him return to the Fringe to entertain us in the future with more tales of terror. Perhaps he will bring us back Edgar Allan Poe to the Fringe as well in the future as I missed him doing that.
Reviewed by Rosdaughr
You can listen to David Crawford speak about his performance of Poe here on YouTube:
2014 Night of the Living Dead: Genesis (filming) – Sheriff Connor McClellan
2014 Wormwood’s End – Alan Burrows
2010 Animalz (Short) (voice)
2008 Sabbath (Video) Reverend
2001 Euphoria (Video) Test Subject 1 / Guy in Line
1998 The Tichborne Claimant – Court Usher
1998 What Rats Won’t Do – Drunken Lawyer
1987 Lady Beware Katya’s Father
1984 The Boy Who Loved Trolls (TV Movie) Paul’s Father
1978 Dawn of the Dead Dr. Foster
1971 Room 222 (TV Series) – They Love Me, They Love Not (1971)
Dragnet 1967 (TV Series) Teenager – Robbery: DR-15 (1968) … Teenager (as David N. Crawford)
1962 To Kill a Mockingbird David Robinson (uncredited)
Self (2 credits)
2015 Road Trip of the Dead (filming) Himself
2004 The Dead Will Walk (Video documentary) Himself
Archive footage (1 credit)
2007 Cinemassacre’s Monster Madness (TV Series documentary) Dr. Foster
– Dawn of the Dead (2007) … Dr. Foster