Gerard Logan Makes the Audience’s Hair Stand on End at the Menotti Theatre
It’s been a while, but it was well worth the wait. Watching Gerard Logan on stage again in Milan in “Night Terrors” at the Teatro Menotti was as much a treat as it was last time, when he played Oscar Wilde in the double bill “Wilde Without the Boy” / “The Ballad of Reading Gaol”. (I also had the privilege of speaking to Gerard before the show – watch this space for a forthcoming write-up of our interview.)
This time, donning his velvet smoking jacket and sinking back into a leather armchair with steepling fingertips, Gerard cast a spell over the audience as he narrated three of E.F. Benson’s creepiest “spook tales”: spine-chilling early 20th century English ghost stories with a shudder-inducing sting in their respective tails.
As with the previous Wilde-themed English Theatre Milan production, the staging of “Night Terrors” was minimal: armchair, small side table and strategically-positioned umbrella stand from which Gerard / the Narrator could pluck a walking stick as required. In the ultra-sparse context of a one-man show, that cane seemed at times to take on the aspect of another character.
Directed with assurance by Gareth Armstrong and with a soundscape sculpted out of ice by Simon Slater, the production allowed the audience to focus on Gerard’s faultless delivery: his diction, dynamic range and emotional intensity carried the audience along with him as each intricate tale was spun, leading us ever deeper into E.F. Benson’s dark world of mystery and just-plausible paranormal phenomena.
The three stories told by Gerard were equally dramatic, haunting and engrossing. In “The Dance”, a spiteful and jealous husband engineers a deadly revenge against his rival (involving a perilous clifftop) which he himself subsequently faces. The second story “The Tube”, is set on the Underground with premonitions and shifts in time involving the fate of Sir Henry Payle deep under (and above) the streets of London. “The Confession of Charles Linkworth”, the third and final tale, recounts the fate of a prisoner facing execution, who, despite the best efforts of a priest, refuses to make his final peace with the Creator; a telephone call the day after the execution contains a “Twilight Zone”-style shocker (accompanied by an audio sting) that actually made me jump out of my seat.
An interesting feature of the production was the excellent Italian translation (by ETM’s Maggie Rose and Sal Cabras and ably controlled by Camilla Sattamino) beamed onto the plain backdrop behind Gerard. During the performance I often found myself flicking between the actor and the translated text, which not only makes the play accessible to a non-English-speaking audience but also adds an extra dimension to the experience for bilingual spectators.
The staff at the Menotti were both accommodating and highly professional. The theatre itself is a bastion of Milan’s experimental and radical dramatic heritage and features a gallery of legendary larger-than-lifesize actors, writers and directors on the walls of the staircase leading down to the subterranean auditorium. (The theatre also boasts an excellent aperitivo with a choice of fine wines available. Their Sicilian Grillo was both crisp and fruity.)
“Night Terrors” was supported by Easy Milano, who regularly provide invaluable exposure to English Theatre Milan’s varied and surprising range of productions throughout the year. If you would like to get involved with ETM and its dramatic activities – including readings, workshops and a guided tour of the best of the Edinburgh Festival this August – visit their website and get in touch.
Article by Robert Dennis, Easy Milano
About the author
Robert Dennis is a writer and Business English teacher based in Milan. He has been teaching for other 30 years both in the UK and in Italy. A long-time collaborator with John Peter Sloan, Robert published Business English (Gribaudo) in 2020. The book was launched with “Il Sole 24 Ore” and sold in newsstands throughout Italy. Robert has a website for people who want to learn Business English: Pay As You Learn.com. The site features keywords and phrases, audio and exercises to help professionals improve their language skills. A graduate in English from Oxford University, Robert is a regular contributor to Easy Milano who often writes about plays staged in English in Milan and other cultural events in the city. He is also a translator and “buongustaio” who loves Italian food!
Easy Milano is the online publication for the international community of Milan. We offer practical tips, key information and essential insights about living and working in Italy. Easy Milano has been assisting English speaking expats in Milan since 1999.
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