Alan Moore's Unearthing live at The Old Vic Tunnels

Alan MooreLast weekend began in an interesting way. I found myself wandering through derelict tunnels underneath Waterloo Station, where I stumbled upon a small theatre.

Okay, I was expecting the theatre to be there, I’m not generally in the habit of wandering into damp, smelly tunnels in the hope of finding entertainment. No matter what you’ve heard. I was there because the Old Vic has commandeered part of the space deep underneath the train station for a series of events this year.

Last week saw two performances of graphic novel writer Alan Moore’s new spoken word album, ‘Unearthing’, with musical backing provided by Crook&Flail (aka Adam ‘Doseone’ Drucker and Fog’s Andrew Broder).

On paper, it doesn’t sound like much: Alan Moore delivers a biography of one of his friends, writer Steve Moore (no relation), set to abstract electronic music with accompanying photographs by Mitch Jenkins projected on a screen behind the stage. In fact, it sounds quite pretentious. And maybe it was a little, but that was easily diffused by Moore’s fantastic writing and unforced humour, all delivered in his distinct Northampton accent.

The story, told over the course of three hours (with two fifteen minute intervals), was far more grand, epic even, than you could possibly expect of a biography of a comic writer who has lived in the same house in Shooter’s Hill – “where Kent begins and London disappears” – for his entire life, save for a misjudged period of three months. It goes back through the history of the area, treating it as much as a character as anyone or anything else in the story, and through the eventual meeting of his parents before getting on to his travels through the words of comics and the occult.

As Moore spoke, Drucker and Broder’s soundtrack (played with the help of Jeff ‘Jel’ Logan), swooped and swelled behind him, rising up to add to the drama, or falling completely away to punctuate the story. Jenkins’ photography and graphical interpretations added yet more tone and colour, though the focus was always the words.

In fact, perhaps the most impressive thing was the delivery of the words. In three hours, Moore never fluffed one of them. Never stumbled, coughed or even, as far as I could hear, breathed. It was a completely hypnotic, gripping and intense show; that intensity ramped up by the fact that we were sitting in a damp, dark tunnel with rusted corrugated iron hanging from the ceiling and the entire space often shaken around us by the deep rumble of overhead trains. Simply stunning.

Taken from my editorial in this edition of CMU Weekly.

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