In the instant that Torquil Campbell comes on stage, you are fascinated by his stories. He has your rapt attention for a full two hours. In the quiet, intimate setting of The Club at Banff Centre for Arts and Creativity, Campbell weaves stories together about himself and his creation of this play. This play, entitled Torquil Campbell: True Crime tells the story about Campbell’s obsession with Clark Rockefeller, a real life conman who is serving a death sentence in a California State prison. Created with Chris Abraham, an award winning director and artist, this production is an in depth look at an artist obsessed with a master of making up identities.
Campbell is a member of the band Stars and this is his first play. He plays himself in the play, telling of how he wanted to work on a project about Clark Rockefeller and how his director, Chris Abraham instructed him to go visit Rockefeller in prison. And so he does.
What ensues is a twisted tale of how Campbell is driven to interview Rockefeller in jail and how he really doesn’t want to see him because he doesn’t want to be infected by Rockefeller’s darkness. It’s what Torquil’s play winds up feeling like for the audience: you’re not sure you want to be infected by Rockefeller’s darkness either. Rockefeller’s real name is Christian Karl Gerhartsreiter, but he has taken on numerous aliases including Christopher Chichester, Christopher Rider, Christopher Crowe, Chip Smith, and finally, Clark Rockefeller.
Campbell changes into each character, his wife, Rockefeller, and the surrounding characters effortlessly. He talks about what Rockefeller did to wind up with a life sentence and how he fooled everyone. How the thing that brought about Rockefeller’s downfall was done out of love. And through all this, Campbell’s fascination with this man and this darkness shines through
It’s all performed to the gentle strumming of a guitar by Julian Brown and the entire performance is almost hypnotizing. Campbell is very clear, we, the audience are to blame for what Campbell does. People, ultimately want a mirror.
Whether you internalize Campbell’s blame is up to you.
Torquil Campbell: True Crime was performed at Banff Centre for Arts and Creativity. More information about Banff Centre’s programming can be found here.