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The Collector (Tour - Salford)

Rating: 3 out of 5 stars
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Venue: Lowry (Studio)
Where: Salford

I freely admit that I have not read the famous novel by John Fowles. However I'm not sure that this version of The Collector, which Rocket Productions have developed from the book, is enough to make me seek it out.

The premise of the play is that Frederick Clegg, having won millions on the lottery, kidnaps the woman he has loved from a distance, imprisoning her in his cellar in the obsessive belief that this is the only way she will notice him.

Liam Fox as Frederick is very successful at portraying the naïve loner. The character obviously has a mild learning disability and this is nicely contrasted with the fact that he is a deep thinker. Likewise, Lisa Whiteman plays Miranda, the object of his affection, with a suitably emotional performance. Her move from victim to aggressor and back to victim is nicely drawn and very believable indeed.

Mark Healy has taken a 1963 novel and updated it to the present day. So he swaps the pools for the Lottery and relocates the piece to Manchester. As admirable as these changes are, the play has one major failing: running at just over two and a half hours, it is too long for the audience to really appreciate the drama and intensity of the situation.

Director Martin Harris draws excellent performances from his actors and does a good job with the script, but really needs to cut some of the unnecessary parts to tighten the dramatic effect of the show. Perhaps it should return to the hour and a half duration which it ran to in London eighteen months ago.

The very simple set of a few pieces of furniture works well in the intimate setting of the Lowry Studio. The lighting by James Byrom is superb, with a subtle transition in colour between the scenes where Frederick is talking directly to the audience as opposed to the scenes where he is interacting within the story.

The Collector has a strong plot and is well acted, but it needs trimming to really have the impact it deserves.

- Helen Jones


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