The Mystery of Raddlesham Mumps is the latest book from poet, performer and comedian Murray Lachlan Young. The book is an all ages gothic tale that follows in the footsteps of Edward Lear, Lewis Carroll and Neil Gaiman. Julie Verhoeven supplies illustrations to bring the dark and gruesome story to life on the page and tonight Murray Lachlan Young is reading from the book at the Aye Write Festival in Glasgow.
The event starts in a rather bizarre fashion, with Murray Lachlan Young telling off a rude audience member who won’t stop talking. The event starts proper when the performer transforms himself into a gothic storyteller by wearing a jet black kimono and stripy t-shirt. He looks like a Tim Burton sketch brought to life and talks with an eerie voice, labouring on syllables to make the chills even more chilling. The story covers several generations of the one family who each die in gruesome and bizarre circumstances (an anvil on the head, suicide by hanging from a bell tower, a fashion disaster in the 1960’s and being eaten by a pet tiger are some of the strange deaths). The story then takes a dramatic twist where ghosts seek vengeance and a conflict with the young and curious Crispin Raddlesham Mump ensues.
The reading is grips the listener as The Mystery of Raddlesham Mumps takes many twists and turns. Murray Lachlan Young creates a strange and unpredictable world where anything can happen and this makes the story feel spontaneous and impulsive. Throughout the reading the poet reads in front of a screen with the title of the book projected in big gothic letters. It would have been nice to have seen some of the illustrations from The Mystery of Raddlesham Mumps projected onto this screen whilst he read. This may have brought out the exciting and visual nature of the story, but the performance was exciting and twisted. During a brief Q&A we learn that The Mystery of Raddlesham will have a sequel, which sounds just as ridiculous, outlandish and entertaining as the story we heard this evening.