Skip to main content

The Haunting

King’s Theatre, Edinburgh
3 stars
Say what you like about hoary old ghost stories, but, as with the
runaway success of The Woman in Black, in terms of sensationalist fun
with smoke, mirrors and a bag of stage tricks as old as Methuselah
himself, they’re hard to knock. This one even has the literary cred of
being (very) loosely adapted by writer Hugh Janes from a quintet of
Charles Dickens short stories, with an extra added soupcon of incident
and colour culled from Dickens’ own real life interest in all things
supernatural to knit together a suitably shadowy and impeccably plummy
haunted house yarn.

Young book dealer David Filde is seconded to catalogue the country
house library of his uncle’s late colleague, whose money-centred son
has become the new Lord Gray. Other things are afoot beyond financial
transactions, alas, as Filde encounters Dostoyevsky-loving
poltergeists, disembodied female voices off and all manner of things
that go bump in the night.

This might well be unashamedly commercial hocus-pocus resembling some
1970s prime-time TV pot-boiler. Yet, as has been observed on these
pages before, material like this uses exactly the same theatrical
accoutrements that a host of younger and hipper theatre makers are
reclaiming as their own in a host of experience-based shows.

While essentially a vehicle for veteran sit-com and musical star Paul
Nicholas and ex East Ender Charlie Clements, Wooldridge’s talky
production sets up a debate of sorts between Nicholas’ cynical
rationalist and Clements’ wide-eyed seeker of spooks. There’s also a
hint of Victorian values courtesy of Filde’s dead sister, and a
double-bluff of an ending that suggests it might all have been in
Filde’s head all along.

The Herald, March 2nd 2011



Popular posts from this blog

The Honourable K.W. Harman: Ltd Ink Corporation

31 Bath Road, Leith Docks, March 17th-20th

In a monumental shipping container down by Leith Docks, a Sex Pistols tribute band is playing Anarchy in the U.K.. on a stage set up in the middle of the room. Either side, various constructions have been built in such a way so viewers can window shop as they promenade from one end of the room to the next, with the holy grail of a bar at either end.

Inbetween, there’s a confession booth and a mock-up of a private detective’s office with assorted documentation of real-life surveillance pinned to the walls. Two people seem to be having a conversation in public as if they're on a chat show. An assault course of smashed windows are perched on the floor like collateral damage of post-chucking out time target practice. A display of distinctively lettered signs originally created by a homeless man in search of a bed for the night are clumped together on placards that seem to be marking out territory or else finding comfort in being together. Opp…

The Maids

Dundee Rep

Two sisters sit in glass cases either side of the stage at the start of Eve Jamieson's production of Jean Genet's nasty little study of warped aspiration and abuse of power. Bathed in red light, the women look like artefacts in some cheap thrill waxworks horror-show, or else exhibits in a human zoo. Either way, they are both trapped, immortalised in a freak-show possibly of their own making.

Once the sisters come to life and drape themselves in the sumptuous bedroom of their absent mistress, they raid her bulging wardrobe to try on otherwise untouchable glad-rags and jewellery. As they do, the grotesque parody of the high-life they aspire to turns uglier by the second. When the Mistress returns, as played with daring abandon by Emily Winter as a glamour-chasing narcissist who gets her kicks from drooling over the criminal classes, you can't really blame the sisters for their fantasy of killing her.

Slabs of sound slice the air to punctuate each scene of Mart…


Tramway, Glasgow until July 2nd
Four stars

In the dead of night, the audience are split in two and led under-cover into lamp-lit tented structures. Inside, what look like peasant women on the run lead us down a ramp and into a large circular pod. It feels part cathedral, part space-ship, and to come blinking into the light of such a fantastical structure after stumbling in the dark disorientates and overwhelms. Sat around the pod as if awaiting prayers to begin, we watch as performers Nerea Bello and Judith Williams incant mournfully on either side of the room. Their keening chorales embark on a voyage of their own, twisting around each other by way of the international language of singing. As if in sympathy, the walls wail and whisper, before starting to move as those on either side of the pod are left stranded, a gulf between them.

This international co-commission between Glasgow Life and the Merchant City Festival, Sydney Harbour Foreshaw Authority in Australia and Urbane Kienste …