Aleister Crowley was ‘The Great Beast’, a mysterious and cultish figure from the 1920s who, immersed in the occult and a desire to free himself from the restrictions of society & religion, founded his own esoteric philosophy. He attracted a number of followers and devotees – either attracted to his charisma and beliefs; or to the hedonistic drug and sex-fuelled existence he was alleged to enjoy.
In this solo performance, John Burns dons the mantle of this infamous character in A Passion For Evil, a work which attempts to peel away the scandal and outrage and shine a little light on Crowley the man.
Against a simple set and a few props, Burns’ performance is well-delivered and convincing, portraying a character who we can believe was charismatic and compelling enough to enthral.
With mostly effective pacing, he also reveals some of Crowley’s inner thoughts and beliefs, unpeeling the layers of the persona in an attempt to uncover the man behind the myth.
Things are a little rushed in places, but on the whole the piece is gripping and compelling, held together by a strong and well-played performance which summons – and then exorcises – the spirit of The Great Beast.
Ticket information is available on the Fringe website.
Review by Keith D