Review: The Haunting at New Vic Theatre

-Credit: (Image: Andrew Billington)
-Credit: (Image: Andrew Billington)

We all know Charles Dickens could spin a good yarn. It’s also well known that he was partial to a ghost story - A Christmas Carol being his most famous foray into the supernatural.

Hugh Janes’ The Haunting, which is currently showing at the New Vic Theatre, is adapted from several of Dickens’s lesser known short stories. It also draws inspiration from a ghostly encounter experienced by Janes’ own cousin.

Uneasiness sets in as soon as you enter the auditorium, with all the lights turned down low and a gloomy, candlelit room at the centre of the stage.

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Asleep in a chair is antiquarian book dealer David Filde, who has arrived at the spooky old manor house to catalogue and value the owner Lord Gray’s impressive collection of books. Mysteriously, en route, he’s been warned not to go there. Of course, he ignores that warning and, as he settles in for the night, strange things start to occur. Books falling from shelves, doors slamming, a young woman’s pleading voice...

Despite the gruff Lord Gray’s initial scepticism about Filde’s concerns, it soon becomes clear that something sinister has happened within the walls of the house – but what?

The Haunting -Credit:Andrew Billington
The Haunting -Credit:Andrew Billington

David Ahmad and Richard Leeming excel as Gray and Filde in what is, pretty much, a two-handed performance. Meanwhile the clever set design, lighting and sound effects work so well together to maintain a spooky and suspenseful atmosphere throughout the show. There are some impressive effects that make you wonder, ‘How do they do that?’

I won’t spoil it by revealing any more of the plot, but Filde’s unpicking of the mystery behind the unnerving events is gripping. And what to make of the ending?

Beware if you’re of a nervous disposition - it will make you jump! Don’t be too worried about taking along a youngster though. While it wouldn’t be suitable for young children, my 13-year-old daughter enjoyed it and didn’t have nightmares afterwards! It was nice to see some teenagers and young adults in the audience, when the New Vic audiences are often of an older demographic.

The Haunting is an old-school ghost story that will draw you in and send chills down your spine. Highly recommended.

The Haunting is at the New Vic Theatre in Newcastle-under-Lyme until Saturday, June 15. For tickets click here.

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