Characterisation is key to Nick Coyle’s deliciously funny Gothic show, Queen of Wolves. Through costume and the adoption of some very precise mannerisms, Coyle morphs himself into Miss Frances Glass – a governess who, for a handsome fee, is sent to take care of matters in a house plagued by supernatural happenings.
Immediately hilarious is Coyle’s over-the-top portrayal of Miss Glass as a perpetually fearful and squeamish woman. With a quivering lip, an ever-wavering voice and much clutching of the chest, Coyle brilliantly captures the nervousness of the protagonist. The line “fear is a companion I recognise by its constancy” is delivered with such articulate melodrama that it sends the audience into peals of laughter.
Of course, Frances does have reason to be afraid. The character finds herself tormented by forces she does not understand as she looks after the impossibly large Blackbell House. The dusty attic feel of the venue certainly lends itself well to this creepy setting. Here, various sound effects and prop-related gimmicks heighten the tension and help to achieve the desired level of spookiness.
Coyle’s script deserves praise for the surprises it offers. There are moments in which Frances comes across as endearingly self-aware (she reprimands herself because she just “cannot stop monologuing”), and there’s one side-splitting moment that comes entirely out of the blue involving party music and a significant amount of sexy dancing.
There’s suspense and humour galore in this show, and it all leads up to a very interesting final scene. Queen of Wolves is impressive, both comical and slightly spine-chilling. It’s a clever slab of theatre that takes on aspects of Gothic horror while also gently poking fun at the genre. You’ll laugh, you’ll jump, and you’ll come away glad you watched this story unfold.
Words: Morgan Laing
Nick Coyle: Queen of Wolves, Underbelly, Aug 26-27, 5.30pm