Wilkie Collins “The Red Vial” Launch and Performance

In Category

  • The Red Vial by Wilkie Collins. Red text over image of dark staircase.

November 30th 2017 – 6-7pm and 7.30-8.30pm

Free event organised by Department of Drama and Theatre Arts, University of Birmingham.

Celebrating the publication of Wilkie Collins’s sensational gothic drama, The Red Vial, Francis Boutle Publishers invite you to a free book launch and drinks reception followed by short thrillingexcerpts from the play. Taking place in Birmingham’s Coffin Works, the Victorian candlelit setting provides an eery space for Collins’s venture into the theatrical uncanny.

Di Sherlock and Caroline Radcliffe (performers) provide a startling introduction to the play, with Jane Chapman (musician) providing a melodramatic musical accompaniment. Come for a taste of The Red Vial – laudanum will be freely available for those who find the terrifying corpse scene too horrible to watch.

Written in 1858, Wilkie Collins’s The Red Vial was considered the dramatic forerunner to Emile Zola’s realist drama Thérèse Raquin. Fuelled by a desperate, maternal love, Madame Bergmann, the widow of a celebrated physician, is ruthlessly driven to poison her benevolent employer and his loyal protégé, the reformed lunatic, Hans Grimm. The play’s uncompromising themes of madness and murder, climaxing with the horrific appearance of a corpse in Act III, shocked audiences and critics alike and the play was put to rest until Collins re-wrote it as the novel, Jezebel’s Daughter, in 1880 .

Wilkie Collins is better known for his novels, including The Woman in White and The Moonstone, but he was also a prolific dramatist. This is the first publication of his script for his drama, The Red Vial. It brings together the two known manuscripts, providing a complete, annotated transcript of the play, a scholarly introduction (by Caroline Radcliffe) and contemporary illustrations and reviews (consultant editor Andrew Gasson). Books will be on sale at this event for £9.99.

PLEASE NOTE: this event has two performances, one at 6pm-7pm and one at 7.30pm-8.30pm. Please book for one or the other performances and attend the one you have booked. Tickets are free but we strongly recommend that you book as spaces are limited.

Tickets available through Eventbrite – register for FREE.

For further information please call the Coffin Works Box Office: 0121 233 4790 or email Caroline Radcliffe c.radcliffe@bham.ac.uk

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