The Haunting Of Hill House

Presented by Liverpool Everyman & Playhouse in association with Sonia Freidman Productions and HAMMER
Adapted by Anthony Neilson
Based on the novel by Shirley Jackson
Directed by Melly Still
Liverpool Playhouse
Till 16th January 2016

Reviewed by Colin Serjent
Photograph by Gary Calton

This production has been adapted from the supernatural novel by Shirley Jackson, set in 1959, in which Dr Montague (Martin Turner) brings together a group of four people, all strangers to each other, at the notorious Hill House.

It has been filmed twice, most notably The Haunting by Hammer Films in 1963, but this is the first time it has been staged in the theatre.

It is a very dark work, in more ways than one. At times it is difficult to discern the characters on stage, as it is plunged into virtual darkness with doom-laden sound effects, including creaking doors and floors, as well as thunderous hammering of door knockers from the front of the house.

The story is mainly based around highly stressed and self conscious Eleanor (Emily Bevan), who feels ill at ease with life in general. Her view on the world has not been helped by looking after her sick mother for 11 years.

She is yearning for love and affection and feels she might receive some from the outward going Luke (Joseph May), who is highly sceptical of the antics of charlatan Celia Markway (Jane Guernier), for instance when she laughably attempts to communicate with people from beyond the grave

It includes the standard features of horror stories - the telling of ghost tales, explorations into the dark recesses of the mind, which are presented on a pseudo level, and, oh so predictably, bumps in the night.

I am afraid it did not spook me at all - I found it generally mundane. Horror stories, whether they be in books, in films, or on stage, are not my cup of arsenic.

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