Fringe Box



Review: The Small Hand – Susan Hill’s Aaargh Factor

Published on: 21 Oct, 2014
Updated on: 21 Oct, 2014

By the Stage Dragon

You probably know The Woman in Black, it’s been running in the West End for over 25 years, and is now a film starring Daniel Radcliffe.

Written in 1983, Susan Hill’s short story was adapted for Alan Ayckbourn’s Scarborough Theatre in 1987, and has been on in London ever since. According to last night’s programme, while Susan Hill’s work encompasses all forms of literary fiction, she wanted to see if a longer ghost story was feasible now.

The Small Hand plays at the Yvonne Arnaud Theatre until Saturday.

The Small Hand plays at the Yvonne Arnaud Theatre until Saturday.

This week, the Yvonne Arnaud Theatre is offering the supernatural full-length thriller The Small Hand, adapted by Clive Francis and presented by Bill Kenwright.

This production is destined to haunt another London stage for an eternity. Backed by clever projections and a mix of theatrical sound and lighting effects, the cast creates an electrifying atmosphere. The suspension of disbelief is well-judged: some real spine-chills, yet we know it’s all a story.

True to tradition, there’s thunder, lightning, pouring rain, an isolated and derelict house, an old black-and-white photo, a long journey and of course a frightful secret. Set in modern time, and with careful use of flash-back, our tantalising tale unwinds slowly with just a few moments of light relief, otherwise the tension builds inexorably.

The role of Adam Snow is taken by Andrew Lancel, best known as Frank Foster in Coronation Street. It’s a big part, and a complex one: portraying an emotional character increasingly losing contact with reality; unsure of himself – was he imagining things, or delusional?

small-handOutstanding support is supplied by Robert Duncan (Drop The Dead Donkey, Old Harry’s Game) and Diane Keen (The Cuckoo Waltz, Rings On Their Fingers and Doctors). These two actors play multiple roles with convincing aplomb, and this gloriously theatrical whole is brought to life by director Roy Marsden (Inspector Dalgliesh).

Don’t miss it – we’re lucky to be able to enjoy such theatre in Guildford.

The Small Hand runs at the Yvonne Arnaud Theatre, Guildford, until Saturday, October 25. Tuesday to Thursday at 7.45pm, Friday and Saturday at 8pm, with matinees on Thursday and Saturday at 2.30pm.
To book: or call the box office on 01483 440000.

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