The spirit of Victorian tales of the supernatural and macabre is summoned to the modern stage in Dyad Production’s Female Gothic, an atmospheric one-hander directed by Guy Masterson.
Though a trifle overlong, Rebecca Vaughan conjures up the period’s fascination with spine-chilling tales of the unexpected, in a storytelling performance which manages to ably escape the spectre of melodrama.
In Victorian and Edwardian times, such mysterious stories were devoured by readers. Most of these were penned by women authors, and Vaughan picks a trio of candlelit tales to recount: stories of unrequited love, dreadful scientific experiments and ghastly hauntings.
The stories themselves have lost their power to terrify over the years: there are no shock tactics or gore here; instead an atmosphere of foreboding and otherworldliness is evoked by the words and by Vaughan’s accomplished telling, gathering slowly like mist in a graveyard at midnight.
Equally, there is no grand theme or message to Female Gothic: beyond providing a glimpse back to a time when women authors defied the confines of their society’s constrictions and sought release in the relatively unfettered grounds of gothic fiction.
At 75 minutes, the piece feels a little too languorous and measured; like the style and period of writing on which it is based. Simple yet subtle sound and lighting design add to the mood, as does the sparse set of the storyteller’s wingback chair: yet ultimately Female Gothic’s conjured spirits are a little too insubstantial to completely bewitch.
Female Gothic is at the Assembly George Square until 26 August, 1145-1300. Ticket details are available on the Fringe website.