What The Dickens? Don't Look Behind You!

The Haunting
Theatre Severn
Monday 5th…Saturday 10th November

A ghostly pallor hangs over the auditorium of Theatre Severn this week as the spectres and ghosts that filled Charles Dickens’ Mind have moved en masse into the Shrewsbury theatre. Well that isn’t exactly true but certainly there are a fair percentage of them. All of them waiting patiently until its their turn to bang a door or a window in the lavishly built scenery that is all set for, The Haunting.

Brought to Shrewsbury by Bill Kenwright Productions, The Haunting, brings the world of ghosts and spooks, buried secrets and hauntings, spectacularly into town.

With a set so unbelievably active it is easy to lose oneself in this two act story and to find yourself gripping the arms of your seat as windows and doors fly open and closed with such violence. It is hard not to believe that you have been transported back to the house on the moor, where all the action happens.

David Filde is brought to an old house in the middle of nowhere to initially audit the Lord of the Manors’ book collection. As he gets more and more engrossed in his work a whole scene from history presents itself and distracts him from his task. Obviously, initially Lord Gray, his employer, is sceptical until eventually both men join forces to exorcise whatever is haunting the building; with surprising consequences.

Lord Gray played by David Robb (Dr. Clarkson from Downton Abbey) and David Filde played by James Roache (James Cunningham, Coronation Street) work together to get to the bottom of the mystery.

Already mentioned the set is a work of art and even though you know it’s a play and even though you know it’s not true, you are sucked into this old dilapidated building on the edge of some fictitious moor.

This is a fine example of theatre working as it should. The lighting, the sound and the setting all playing as much of a role as the two actors. Thunder rumbles overhead as the lightning splits the scene, the old tree taps the window pane and with all the pathos of an Elvira style séance (Blithe Spirit) as an audience member one is completely spooked.

There is nothing more spectacular than seeing a theatre working to full potential. It brings about a realisation that Theatre is indeed a magical art form. It encourages your suspension of disbelief and allows you into the working mind of the greatest of our weighty Victorian novelists.

This triumph is top drawer. This is Theatre Severn bringing the best in twenty first century theatrical experiences. The production is lavish, believable and incredibly spooky.

Nervous laughter can be heard rippling around the auditorium after each episode that makes one jump out of one’s seat. That is a sign that it is working.

We all still have a fascination in ghosts and all things haunted, even with our advances of technology, our amazing scientific achievements and our sophisticated lifestyles as soon as there’s a mention of a ghost story we are all children again sitting in anticipation as the story teller weaves his magic. It is a wonderful almost instinctive return to times when all we had to do was to sit back and listen to stories. The ticking of our everyday lives is for a couple of hours put on hold as our mind floods with the possibilities of a life after death and ghosts and spectres are allowed to wander freely through our imaginations.

This is an excellent show, this is theatre at its best.

 

This is a four star review.

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Owen Lewis Owen Lewis

Owen Lewis was born fifty something years ago in the land of the black puddings. For the geographically challenged that is in Lancashire. Moving to Shropshire From 1970 Owen was brought up in Church Stretton. His first real job was in radio. After starting on BBC Radio Shropshire he became known on Marcher Sound, broadcasting throughout the North West for several years. After a university degree course in Theatre, Owen became an actor and went on to play "Pirate Bill" in The Alton Towers Hotel. He also made several television appearances. Returning to university he took his PGCE enabling him to teach. That saw him on the Essex coast as a drama teacher and latterly as a Creative Educational Liaison Officer making films and creating new teaching methods to employ on children in need of more help in their fundamental learning skills. Published playwright Owen ultimately wants a house boat in Amsterdam to focus on his work as Playwright and Poet.

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