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  • Harry Tanner made ‘impressive debut’

    By Ron Ellis

    Charles Dickens’ The Haunting adapted by Hugh James

    SDC at Southport Little Theatre

    BOOK dealer, David Filde, arrives at the manor of the late Lord Gray to catalogue the books in his library, on the instruction of his son, despite being warned of paranormal disturbances there.

    Richard Michell, looking and sounding very elegant as the new Lord Gray, explains the task ahead but it is not long before the wailing of the ghost is heard, accompanied by a cacophony of bangs and creaks and flashing lights.

    Impressive work by the theatre’s sound and light department who could probably get a contract at Alton Towers on the strength of their performance.

    Similarly striking was the set, dark and foreboding and lined with rows of bookshelves full of ancient volumes, several of which jumped of the shelves at pivotal moments.

    Harry Tanner made an impressive debut as the young Filde, every word he spoke could be clearly heard, a rarity in modern theatre.

    Unfortunately, there was too little going on onstage to hold the attention. Just two men talking to each other, going over the same deliberations about the ghost. No sub-plot. No other characters (Don’t count the ghost whose sole contribution was the odd wailed ‘help me’ at various intervals). No urgency. Little action.

    Hugh James adapted this play from five different Charles Dickens ghost stories which might explain why there was little sense of continuity as to where the plot was leading so that, when the final dénouement eventually arrived, many in the audience were mystified.

    Directed by John Sharp and Andrew Sloman, the setting, costumes and effects were excellent but as for the play itself….

    Happily, it was over by 9.20pm, even after a twenty minute interval.

    It would have made a good 30 minute radio play.

    Star Rating 5 out of 10. Suitably foreboding but too much talk, too little action.

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