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Review: Classic Ghosts, Everyman Theatre, Cheltenham

By Gloucestershire Echo  |  Posted: January 22, 2014

Comments (5)

Fancy some enjoyable shock therapy to banish thoughts of January’s chills and bills?

Then Classic Ghosts could be for you.

Everything about Ground Theatre’s double-bill is classic. The best of Gothic ghoul-school writers: MR James and Charles Dickens, imaginative staging and a gifted cast.

Key to maximum scarifying however, is Michael Lunney’s double involvement as director and designer.

James and Dickens knew how to haunt every page of their stories, Whistle and I’ll Come to You and The Signalman. But many of you will be familiar with these tales via television dramatisations, complete with a bag of technical tricks the stage cannot match.

Or can it? Well Mr Lunney certainly gives it all his got. The stage set for ‘Whistle’ features not just the hotel used by a worryingly confident, ghost-dismissing professor, but also a moving projection of the seashore, containing significant parts of the action.

I t all comes unhurriedly, cumulatively together catching the atmosphere of an out of season seaside resort. Until the storm grows ever stronger, windows rattle, doors open untouched, bedspreads roll back unaided and vengeance seeks the meddling unbeliever.

Veteran actor Jack Shepherd, best known for TV’s Wycliffe, makes the professor credible in his characteristic, understated way. Whilst Terrence Hardiman as a bluff colonel and Dicken Ashworth as the hotelier add sure substance. .

The set for The Signalman – the mouth of a tunnel and a signal box, looks so real that you could almost expect a delay due to the wrong kind of leaves on the track.

The spectre that haunts Jack Shepherd’s worthy but worried signalman, however, is directly on target. Despite the help of a well-intentioned, late night passerby (Hardiman) however, please rest assured that tragedy cannot be averted.

OK it’s a load of old hokum, but very superior old hokum. So expect to be shocked in your seat, and at the end of The Signalman to feel your spine tingle.

Others in an all round good cast are James Morley, Jenny May Darcy and Greg Fitch.

Oh and there’s more if your interested. An optional after-show, in-the-dark ghost tour of the theatre.

It’s nothing to do with actors dying on stage professionally, but somehow The Everyman has amassed late night sightings of spirits. So maybe the next time Hamlet is produced, his father’s ghost will an inside casting,

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  • glawsteruk2  |  January 25 2014, 11:25PM

    Having just seen the show I have to agree with some of misterE's comments. I am a great M R James fan and I found myself squirming with boredom at some points - the first half was particularly disappointing and it was difficult at times to hear what was being said. just when I thought the terror of Professor Parkin might increase, the curtain came down. Disappointing.

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  • Spider1  |  January 23 2014, 4:31PM

    I am not quite sure which amateur shows MisterE has seen but this certainly is far from amateurish!The effects are very good and very scary!I would highly recommend this as a fun evening out. I have also just seen the production shots on facebook and the sets look AMAZING.Quality YES amateur.....I don't think so MisterE.

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  • auntymousy  |  January 23 2014, 4:27PM

    Brilliant and Fabulous. Kept me on the edge of my seat! loved it. I agree with Leo - Mister E what are you thinking are you sure that you were watching the same play!!

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  • leopardlushes  |  January 22 2014, 11:46PM

    Fabulous show, scary in all the right places yet atmosperic and great special effects! Would like to see you do better MisterE!!

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  • misterE  |  January 22 2014, 2:22PM

    Couldn't disagree more. Classic Ghosts is a production with a complete lack of responsibility and craft. To call its standards amateurish would be the biggest of insults to all of the amateur dramatic societies up and down the country. Clunky, lazy directing. The same with the writing - though I would also add embarrassing to that. Acting was misguided and barely audible. Never mind Dickens and M. R. James turning in their graves, how about the people in the auditorium who were squirming in their chair-coffins having been fatally stabbed with boredom?

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