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Ernest and the spine-chilling tale

PUBLISHED: 08:34 26 March 2010 | UPDATED: 09:08 02 July 2010

Abigail Saltmarsh

Inspired by the works of Edgar Allan Poe and Alfred Hitchcock, Ernest and the Pale Moon is a spine-chilling tale of obsession and murder. ABIGAIL SALTMARSH asks writer and lead actor Oliver Lansley more.

More about Les Enfants Terribles

Inspired by the works of Edgar Allan Poe and Alfred Hitchcock, Ernest and the Pale Moon is a spine-chilling tale of obsession and murder. ABIGAIL SALTMARSH asks writer and lead actor Oliver Lansley more.

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After a sell-out run at the Edinburgh Festival, the latest production award-winning theatre company Les Enfants Terribles is a spine-chilling tale of obsession and murder, inspired by the works of Edgar Allan Poe and Alfred Hitchcock.

Ernest and the Pale Moon is once again the work of writer Oliver Lansley, a published poet with a string of TV credits to his name, and the production and musical team behind The Terrible Infants, which won rave reviews at Edinburgh.

Ernest spends his days watching the beautiful young woman who lives in the apartment opposite. Upon seeing her with another man he is thrown into a jealous rage and driven to murder, though all is not what it may at first seem and slowly Ernest's guilt sends him on a spiralling descent into madness.

The piece contains narrative twists and turns, live music, inventive design and physical storytelling and promises to a thrilling and terrifying experience.

t Can you tell us about Ernest and the Pale Moon?

Ernest and the pale moon is a dark and twisted tale about obsession, madness and murder. It draws from the worlds of gothic horror, from Edgar Allan Poe to Hitchcock to Tim Burton. It's basically about a man who's obsessed with the woman who lives opposite and when he sees her with another man it sends him into a jealous rage. This sets off a chain of events which, to put it mildly, doesn't end well! We draw on a range of different techniques and tricks to tell the story, and scare and disturb our audience!

t Which part do you play yourself and why is it an appealing role?

I play the title character Ernest who descends into madness throughout the show. It's pretty exhausting but a great challenge to try and play the massive journey he goes on over the course of the play. Surprisingly, it's actually quite good fun as an actor to really be able to delve deep into his twisted world and take the journey with him.

t What devices do you use to keep the audience gripped?

All sorts, it's sort of no-holds-barred storytelling and we like to explore many different techniques in our work. This show includes live music, physicality, narration, live sound effects, expressionism, time jumps, lighting effects and good old fashioned scares to name but a few.

t Your production of The Terrible Infants had a sell-out run at Edinburgh, is Ernest and the Pale Moon similar in any way?

It comes from a similar world but is much darker. That show was an exploration of children's stories, and what I remembered, and loved, about those stories when I a kid. This is sort of the same thing and uses similar techniques and things we learnt from that show but applies them to the horror genre. It means we get to have fun trying to scare people.

t When and why did you form your theatre company Les Enfants Terribles?

Les Enfants was officially formed in 2002 with our first show West, I had recently finished a production of Steven Berkoff's Greek with a director and the show had gone really well, got great reviews and transferred to The Riverside Studios in London, which and was a big step in my career. The director and I wanted to work together again so foolishly I suggested that I could produce the show - West, another Berkoff play. It was pretty ambitious - we had a cast of around 20, a troupe of dancers, a live jazz band and a giant glitter ball! We performed the show in London, and The Assembly Rooms in Edinburgh heard about it and invited us up for the festival and the rest, as they say, is history. I produced that on my own and sort of figured that after taking on a show like that, we could probably do anything.

t You were recently named one of the Broadcast Hotshots by Broadcast magazine and won the multi-talented award at Channel 4's 4-Talent Awards, how would you like to see your career develop?

I'm very happy with what I'm getting to do at the moment. I want the company to continue to progress, I'd like to work in film and I think Id probably like to write more in different forms -novels, children's books, who knows? We are just starting work on a brand new musical theatre show which is probably our most ambitious project to date so will be interesting to see where that takes us. It's called The Vaudevillains and is premiering at Latitude so keep an eye out for it.

t What has been the reaction of audiences so far to Ernest and the Pale Moon?

Great. It's fascinating to see how the show adapts to different spaces and audiences. It's a really interesting show to be involved in and to see the different reactions you get from audiences. Screaming, squirming, silence, nervous laughter; people all react to being scared in very different ways, but there often tends to be a weird collective consciousness as if one person leads the group in how they will react.

t Ernest and The Pale Moon is at Norwich Playhouse on March 27, £10 (£8 cons), 01603 598598, www.norwichplayhouse.org.uk

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