Inspired by the work of Spanish Gothic author Gustavo Adolfo Becquer, Crested Fools manage to bring chilling stories to life using little else than their talent for storytelling. Their creepy stories about the spectres of tradition, nature, and the dead are just the ticket for those who love the aura of Halloween, but dislike being subjected to unwelcome jump scares. Instead, Becquer’s Legends is a piece of theatre that toys with just how much detail your imagination can conjure on its way to experiencing otherworldly, unspoken fears.
The show is split into two distinct stories. The first follows a marquis who becomes increasingly isolated and obsessive when he falls into the ethereal grasp of a haunting presence in a nearby springs. The second follows a young count who is challenged to retrieve a keepsake on one of the most sacred nights of the year, when the spirits of the dead reclaim the graveyard as their own. Both stories see all characters played by the two-strong cast, swapping between narration and dialogue to produce a disorientating, enveloping performance.
Becquer’s Legends features a fascinating use of gestures, which give inner turmoil an unnerving physicality and stage presence. Combined with coloured lighting and a surprisingly ominous use of smoke, Crested Fools manage to generate a tangible sense of stylised dread without having to stretch themselves in the process. Occasional slips in the delivery aren’t enough to take away from what is a polished, accomplished show that feels right at home – leaving you with an eerie sense of displacement and wonder.
On this evidence, Crested Fools are a theatre company you will want to see featured at festivals and venues for a long time. They do everything they set out to do with Becquer’s Legends. On the one hand they play tribute to a renowned Spanish author. On the other, they produce an often unnerving and always interesting performance that makes full use of whatever they have to hand.
Becquer’s Legends is showing as part of the 2021 Edinburgh Horror Festival until 31 October.