The Performance Corporation’s take on Bram Stoker’s story is not so much an adaptation as it is an invocation.
Stoker’s original tale centres on a young student, who unwisely studies in a premises befouled by the spirit of its former owner, a cruel and sadistic judge.
Wandering among the atmospheric aisles of the country’s oldest public library, we listen to a narration of this ghoulish story, but it is repeatedly inter-cut with another audio track, outlining historical details of Marsh’s Library, which Stoker frequented.
As we meander around, taking in the old books, shelves, and architecture, a figure in antiquated garb (Aonghus Óg MacAnally) strides around, ringing the occasional bell, and generally doing his best to look creepy.
Tom Swift and Jo Mangan alight on countless little elements, whether it’s in reference to Stoker’s reading material at Marsh’s Library, or titbits — in Stoker’s day, visitors to certain sections of the library had to lock themselves inside caged doors. It’s all bolstered by the library’s own display of ancient texts, ranging from Aristotle to Pliny the Elder.
It all makes for an engrossing and layered experience.
By the end, we have heard a ghost story that invokes the ghost of the young Bram Stoker, the ghosts of Dublin past, the ghosts of humanity’s desire for knowledge, and, ultimately, our own ghosts, too, as we — like Stoker before us — sign our name into the library’s register of visitors.
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