Tuesday, June 07, 2011

x2 theatrical endeavours occupied my time this weekend just gone.

(Well, x3 if you count the bumper rehearsal - god help all those who were htf.)

Friday found me at a lovely previously untried venue, the Riverside Studios in Hammersmith.

After a gruelling selection process, I saw an excellent little show called Haunting Julia.

Under usual circumstances, I would run a million miles from Alan Ayckbourn. I accept that he's a fine writer. Very funny and very clever n'all. But he's just a little bit suburban for my liking.

But he also wrote a pack of ghost stories (plays) and this was one of they.

Even the plot sounds a little bit silly. A child prodigy composer died in mysterious circumstances. Years on, her father is determined to rout out the reason why. And employs a psychic to investigate.

Furthermore, he ropes in his dead daughter's ex, now married to someone else and living perfectly happily without dwelling on the (mis)fortune of his long dead one-time love.

The scene is set in the dead daughter's one-time student bedroom which doting father has turned into a museum.

Psychic pitches up, the temperature drops, we hear some weird sobbing in the (already) sinister pretend daughter's v/o describing the exhibit. And the scene is set for some proper chills.

I tend to veer away from suspenseful things for I suspend disbelief far too easily and - as Sister knows to her cost - can get swept away in the terror to vociferous effect.

This production was properly challenging. I spent most of the second act biting my head, paralysed with terror that Dead Daughter was going to burst through the breeze-blocked-up door at the back of the 'room'.

The denouement - when it fearfully wound round - was thrilling and chilling in equal measure.

I loved it.

It was beautifully acted which made all the difference.

The characters were all slightly unbelievable.

Supposedly doting father who in fact over-doted and made... well, I shan't tell you.

Geeky ex who wouldn't say boo to a goose who.... and I shan't tell you.

And the psychic was superb. Leather-look-jacketed wheeler dealer apparently completely chancing his arm in his channeling of the spirits but who turned out to have the kindest heart of all.

Lovely set. Very delicate lighting. Appropriate smoke. And it felt cold. Though I don't suppose it really can have been.

I'm almost a convert to a silly thriller.

A nice dose of brilliantly executed Friday nonsense.


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