top of page

HAVE YOUR          SAY.....

Whether you agree or disagree with our critics, we welcome  your comments and will try to include them at the end of the review. 

Please use our contact form 

All Hail the Archduke O’ Darkdom - Garth Marenghi Live at Birmingham Town Hall

Garth Marenghi’s Incarcerat Book Tour, Birmingham Town Hall, 3 November 2023

Review by David Court

Tour Poster

There are very few times that I feel I have ever been in the presence of true genius. It’s a phrase that is overused these days, and the gravitas of the word has been lessened. There are only two past occasions I can recall – these being witnessing The Chuckle Brothers in the Scarborough Futurist Theatre in 2009, and the Wombles at some stage during the eighties. A third instance can now be added to that formidable list, in the form of Garth Marenghi at Birmingham Town Hall in November 2023.

There have been many remarkable British horror authors through the years – Clive Barker, James Herbert, Joe Pasquale, Nigel Kneale – but they all frankly pale into insignificance next to the true horror majesty that is Garth Marenghi. Anybody who knows their horror can reel off a list of his masterworks – ‘Slasher’, ‘Slicer’, ‘CRAB!’ and ‘The Ooze’ (the book that bravely posed the philosophical question ‘Can water die?’) to name but more than three.

Birmingham Town Hall prepares for the arrival of the Twixt-Dimensional Visionary - Photograph by David Court

We’d attended his previous book launch – the release of ‘TerrorTome’ at Birmingham MAC – but the change of venue was telling. Had Garth determined the Midlands Arts Centre as frankly inadequate to handle a writer of his stature?

The author who once proudly proclaimed to have written more books than he’d ever read takes the stage promptly at half seven, armed with little more than a Sainsburys carrier bag with props and copies of his new book. ‘Incarcerat’ is the second volume of Marenghi’s TerrorTome, which sees Nick Steen - the previous books steely protagonist – captured and imprisoned by Nulltec, a sinister research facility. Like the first book, ‘Incarcerat’ is a collection of smaller tales – or “tomes”, as Marenghi insists – and this show of two halves spoils the eager audience with a reading from all three.

The doomscribe himself, Garth Marenghi - Photograph by David Court

Should the efficient Birmingham Town Hall Security had allowed any of the audience to take pins into the crowded theatre, you could have heard one drop during the retelling of these tales, Marenghi effortlessly pulling you into his world of horror. If the miserable weather outside hadn’t chilled the audience to the bone, the spine-tingling triptych of terrifying tales certainly did.

Marenghi has the rare knack of making this horror-writing lark look easy. Eschewing the common writing practices of sentence structure, character development, and complex plots, he makes the material sound like he's genius enough to have churned it out in an single afternoon - which is a rare talent indeed.

Not for nothing is his name an anagram of ‘Argh! Nightmare!’. Thoroughly recommended.

'Incarcerat' Book Cover

(For those not in the know, Garth Marenghi is the comic creation of Matthew Holness – first appearing in two Edinburgh Fringe Perrier award-winnings stage shows back in 2000 and 2001, and later springing to life on Channel 4 in the deliberately terrible ‘Garth Marenghi’s Darkplace’ on Channel 4 in 2004 – a spoof on overly pretentious eighties low-budget horror. Holness himself is a horror writer of some repute, scripting the unsettling award-winning psychological horror film ‘Possum’ that was released in cinemas in 2019).

More details on the Incarcerat tour can be found here, and information of the line-up of Birmingham Town Hall here.


bottom of page