The Haunting

Written and directed by Liam Scott
Liverpool Lantern Theatre, Blundell Street
Thursday 27th October, 2011

Reviewed by Sarah Ryan

Things go bump in the night at the Lantern Theatre!

Here we are, sitting in the dark listening to a disembodied phone ringing in the holiday cottage of your nightmares. All those uneasy feelings us city folks might have when confronted by that getaway in the middle of the country are preyed upon in this two-hander play written by Liam Scott. Welcome to Greenacre cottage, where our young couple, Mark and Stacey, have come to spend the weekend away from it all with their young baby only to discover that they are not alone…

The atmosphere is effectively created by the use of spooky sound effects and lighting and there were some moments when the audience genuinely jumped with fright! For those of us who’ve spent time driving round darkened lanes in search of that elusive cottage, we could all empathise with the humourous moments at the beginning of the play when the cottage’s answer machine witnesses the increasingly confused messages and snippets of arguments left by the couple as they try to find their way there.

The dialogue quickly established the couple’s relationship and the juxtaposition of the broody young mum and the ‘bit of a lad’ dad who’s too busy thinking about his beer in the fridge and the possibility of a bit of nooky. All this adds to the comedy which acts as a counterpoint to the spooks and shocks when we overhear the mysterious voice pleading with them to ‘Stay with me’ over the baby monitor. The two actors make a likeable couple, though I would have liked to have seen Stacy’s character developed more with some slightly more challenging dialogue, as both characters bordered at times on stereotypes. However, Barry Mason and Anna Hudson worked well together and were believable as an ordinary couple confronted by the supernatural.

I was really impressed with the set, designed by Terence Keating, especially considering how it was created on a very tight budget. As a venue, the Lantern Theatre really fulfills its promise as a small but perfectly formed performance space and I look forward to seeing it develop as a quirky viable space. Overall, I enjoyed The Haunting and reckon that with some adjustments to the pace and characterisation, it will build on it’s early promise.

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