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Review: Classic Ghosts @ New Theatre

Posted by Weeping Tudor from Cardiff - Published on 26/03/2014 at 16:27
0 comments » - Tagged as History, Stage

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Middleground Theatre Company 
Classic Ghosts: Oh, Whistle, And I’ll Come To You, My Lad & The Signalman
New Theatre, Cardiff 
Tuesday 25th March 2014

Do you believe in ghosts?

A question for the ages and sort of tackled in this double bill of ghost stories. As usual with Middleground Theatre Company, I’m left in a state of indifference by what I have seen.

The first story Oh, Whistle, And I’ll Come To You, My Lad by M. R. James is a weird little one which sees Professor Parkins (played by Jack Shepherd) visiting an east coast seaside resort. He stumbles across an old artefact along the beach and this is gradually his downfall, as he is visited by an awful spirit, which psychologically breaks him. The Woman In Black this isn’t, but there was some fairly decent suspense and one or two jump scares.

The moving of the bed sheets on their own accord was a nice touch and the video projection of the shingle beach behind the stuffy set, quite chilling as a lone figure slinks across the landscape, when the old whistle is sounded. The first time the ghost is seen on the stage (and giving the audience a decent scare) it looked silly and phoney, but moments later it is transformed into a mummy like figure, tormenting the professor as the play ends.

The second story, The Signalman by Charles Dickens was better purely for the atmosphere and even more suspense. We see the signalman in question (again played by Shepherd) is visited at his post by a Traveller (Terrence Hardiman). For two nights they discuss many things leading to the paranoia of supernatural events which the signalman believes he sees on the tracks. Having seen apparitions before, this time a figure is seen covering his face with one arm and waving the other from his body.

His hut was a little nest of delights, with books, photos, maps and more. I always find that a set is good if you would actually like to live in it yourself (as is the case with the hut). The tunnel and train tracks also staged well, if the ghost displayed on the screen was looking like a mess of half Japanese theatre, half circus performer. The train sounds which opened the play should have been used only then to raise the curtain, given us the illusion that the train has just past the hut. The claustrophobia was paramount to the story and to the lead characters mental health. The ending isn’t much of a twist as the vision he sees merely shows the impending disaster on the line.

An OK evening with a few frights.

Rating: 5/10

Classic Ghosts: Oh, Whistle, And I’ll Come To You, My Lad & The Signalman is at the New Theatre Cardiff till Saturday 29th March 2014

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