Theatre Preview: Heart Of Darkness, Playhouse Theatre, Liverpool

Image Source: Playhouse Theatre

Digital technology and live performance combine for a bold retelling of Joseph Conrad’s Heart Of Darkness

Joseph Conrad’s novel Heart Of Darkness will be brought into the 21st century through a cutting-edge, digital theatre production at the Playhouse Theatre from Wednesday May 1-Saturday May 4.

Brought to Liverpool by imitating the dog, the critically acclaimed, innovative theatre company put their own take on a tale of discovery, fear, lies and greed.

Written amid the optimism at the end of the 19th century, Conrad’s Heart Of Darkness explores the journey of narrator Charles Marlow travelling up the Congo River, into the Congo Free State in the heart of Africa.

Now retold as a journey of a black woman through war torn Europe, the play explores a forsaken landscape lost to the destructive lust for power and emerges as a tale for our time.

Negotiating race, gender and the themes of exploitation, violence and nationalism, imitating the dog’s Heart of Darkness is a searing parable for our times. It is a production created at a moment when versions of Britain’s colonial past seems to be being held up as a golden era, and when our relationship to Europe is being severely tested.

imitating the dog have been making ground-breaking work for theatres and other spaces for 20 years. The work, which fuses live performance with digital technology, has been seen across the world, and the company have made work for outdoor festivals and events, seen by hundreds of thousands of people.

Heart Of Darkness is retold and directed by imitating the dog founder members Pete Brooks and Andrew Quick (A Farewell to Arms and Kellerman, imitating the dog and The Carrier Frequency, Impact Theatre Co-operative). The production’s projection and video are designed by fellow original founder member Simon Wainwright (The Kid Stays in the Picture, Royal Court).

Peter Brooks, co-artistic director of imitating the dog, commented: “Conrad’s novel deserves to be treated seriously, and his unconscious racism does not invalidate his work, although some people might say it diminishes it. For imitating the dog, it was important that we retold Conrad’s story for audiences today, and from a new perspective. Our production is now the story of the journey of a black woman into the darkness of a war-torn Europe.

“Heart Of Darkness is simply too important a work to be avoided because it’s a political minefield and when you take on a text as tricky as Conrad’s novel you have to tread carefully.”

Heart Of Darkness runs at the Playhouse Theatre from Wednesday May 1-Saturday May 4. To buy tickets, visit or call 0151 709 4776.