What the Dickens! It's fright night at the manor
The Haunting, Rugby Theatre, until October 26.
It is said that Charles Dickens really enjoyed a good ghost story and this extremely spine chilling production is an adaptation by Hugh Janes of several of the great man’s ghostly tales. The atmospheric and spooky set is a room in a crumbling, lonely old manor house on a bleak and windswept moor. A young London book dealer arrives there at the request of the Lord of the manor to categorise and value an impressive collection of old books. There are several strange and eerie happenings in the room and the dealer reveals some very dark secrets. He initially has difficulty in getting the sceptical Lord to take seriously some of the curious goings on. It is also apparent that his Lordship is indifferent to the historical significance of some of the books but is far more interested in their monetary value. As the plot unfolds we also discover that the dealer has another motive for being in the manor. There were no signs of first night nerves as both actors, Christopher Allen-Mason and Ashley Hirons, effectively delivered their considerable lines. A third actor, Carly Tremayne, also made brief appearances but these certainly made a considerable impact on the audience! The play is full of tension and suspense with some very spooky effects including thunder and lightning, hooting owls, screams, moving furniture and books flying off shelves Performing ghost stories is always a challenge and often audiences laugh at attempts to startle and frighten them. The production was successful in genuinely startling and scaring the audience. There may have been a few nervous giggles but this was because the audience were laughing at their own nervous reactions. There was also a very strange twist with an intriguing ending and I’m sure Mr Dickens would have approved of both the script and the production. An enjoyable evening’s entertainment but it’s probably advisable not to go on your own.