Mark R. Bannister
Orchestral & Instrumental
for Film, TV & Theatre
This gothic play by John Constable,
a stage adaptation of two of the novels by Mervyn Peake, was a visual and aural
feast when directed by Rodney Figaro at the Richmond Shakespeare Society,
with clever lighting, projections and sound effects to accompany the strong
cast portraying the story of Titus Groan, the 77th earl and lord of
Castle Gormenghast, from birth to age 17.
The music in this show set a mysterious
atmosphere when required, but also helped provide the black comic edge
to the more obscure and gothic scenes.
To Gormenghast A Son
(MP3 - 47 secs - 1.46 Mb) introduced the rituals and the birth of the heir to
the throne of the House of Groan, a hymn-like piece performed on a blues organ.
This style of organ was typical of the music composed for this production, another example is in the
piece The Poisoned Chalice
(MP3 - 43 secs - 1.31 Mb)
which continues the deliberately exaggerated horror theme, common to the entire play.
The song sung by Chef Swelter
(MP3 - 28 secs - 0.87 Mb)
when his comic horror character is introduced is performed on piano and honker sax.
In the RSS production, a version with bassoon was used instead.
The mysterious "thing", referred to in the RSS production as the
(MP3 - 1 min 28 secs - 2.71 Mb), a feral child who
lives in the woods of Gormenghast, brought much welcome relief to the soundtrack that was
otherwise becoming necessarily evermore serious and tense. This piece was written for flute and clarinet,
with a string harmony that joins in halfway through.
The Murder of Barquentine
was the closing climax of the
first half of the RSS production. The music, agitato strings and staccato brass, builds up in
tension over its duration, and was not heard in full during the stage show. A second variation
of this piece was used to open the second half after the interval.
During the interval, a piece I composed for a production of Romeo & Juliet in 2006
was used, The Dance of the Capulets
(Manuscript), which seemed to fit the eccentricity of the show.
(MP3 - 39 secs - 1.21 Mb), reminiscent
of Ophelia's similar act, was a point of high drama and the accompanying score composed
for the event takes us with her as she climbs to the roof of the castle and throws
herself off the parapet to her untimely demise.
Everything Returns to Gormenghast
(MP3 - 40 secs - 1.23 Mb)
is a piano tolling the ominous and inevitable message that Gormenghast, the castle itself,
has the ultimate grip on its inhabitants and is therefore the single most important
and powerful character of the play.