Fringe Box



Review: The Haunting, Yvonne Arnaud Theatre

Published on: 20 Nov, 2012
Updated on: 20 Nov, 2012

By the Stage Dragon

Definitely not one for the faint-hearted, The Haunting is a ghost story to make even the bravest jump! Hugh Janes’ adaptation of  Charles Dickens’ ghost stories uses traditional devices to give us a classic Victorian spine-tingling tale.

James Roache (left) as David Filde and David Robb as Lord Grey in The Haunting.

The play is stopping off at the Yvonne Arnaud Theatre until Saturday, November 24, and promises to have many audience members shrieking during its duration!

Set in a dilapidated old mansion, the story follows fresh faced young book dealer David Filde (played by James Roache) who visits Lord Gray (David Robb), a cynical and blunt character, who wishes him to catalogue his late father’s book collection. However, it doesn’t take long for floorboards to begin creaking and mysterious screams to be heard late at night. Something spooky is happening despite Lord Gray’s stiff dismissals that it is all ‘fanciful nonsense.’

The play is not so much its own story as an amalgamation of all our favourite parts of classic spooky tales. David is a protagonist we have seen many times: young, fresh faced, easily convinced of the supernatural and impossible to deter from solving the mystery. Anyone who has seen stage favourite The Woman in Black will know the type well.

He comes from London to visit the mansion, which we are told is on a deserted moor, a favourite location for many gothic horror stories. The setting for the play was indeed one of its absolute highlights, and received a round of applause the second the audience caught sight of it. Though we never left the study in which the books were being examined, the props were numerous and detailed, and the lighting could turn it from a friendly study, with sunlight dappling the floorboards to a dark and mysterious place of terror.

The techniques used to show the presence of the supernatural may not have been original, (lightning flashes, loud noises, faces appearing in a sudden flash of light where they were not before), but director Hugh Wooldridge said that the effects were especially developed to be ones that Dickens and his contemporaries would have been familiar with, and the effect was wonderful. After all, a blood curdling scream heard in the dead of night is terrifying whichever century you live in.

Roache and Robb were a fantastic duo and they complemented each other well as they bought new life to such well established character types. It was especially hard to believe that this was Roache’s first theatre production, as his stage presence and voice projection were impressive. Robb was imposing as the humourless Lord, and successfully kept the audience guessing as to how much his character might know.

The theatre was completely packed, and for a Monday night it was a good turnout, especially considering the play had visited the Yvonne Arnaud before back in 2010. Clearly a good scare never gets old and if you are brave enough to watch, you are sure to have tremendous fun.

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