Oh dear. Another huge disappointment! And I’m really sorry to be posting another negative review as I’d love you all to be dashing onto Thameslink to grab a West End seat.
WARNING SPOILERS COMING UP
I’ll try and avoid any spoilers here, but perhaps don’t read this if you already have tickets for the show. I held off posting this for a week or so as I thought it was coming off but it’s been granted a new lease of life – which is probably more scary than the play itself. I’ll press on…
There were so many things wrong with this play that I don’t really know where to start. But any ghost play where the biggest shocks are entirely manufactured and merely irrelevant scene closures is in big trouble from the start. And when the best bit is hearing about 90 seconds of ‘At the River’ by Groove Armada someone needs to make some changes. The plot totally relies on reported action – telling not showing and consists mainly of a series of tedious lectures on the existence or not of ghosts interspersed by meaningless flashing lights and screaming between scenes.
I’m afraid Lily Allen demonstrates why young actors should go to theatre school – her performance is horribly underpowered, single toned and largely inaudible. Jake Wood from EastEnders is in a different play altogether to the rest of the cast, gurning and posturing to no real effect. The other two try hard. Here we had the cynical academic unbeliever, the salt-of-the-earth type with the ‘Gift’, the terrified young mother that no-one believes and an American of no discernible background, other than going out with someone she would never have picked in a million years and telling us she was another character’s best friend – also defying belief!
I had hoped for a bit of scary tech (other than the old baby monitor trope) but apart from a slightly mobile piece of furniture – nothing.
Menace was conveyed (well, signalled) through music and the odd crack of thunder and fox bark as the cast seemed totally unable to create any tension at all, not that the script helped. In fact my companion pointed out the structural similarity between this and Nina Raines’s powerful ‘Consent’. Except Consent is in a different class.
And the ending??? Well I won‘t spoil it for you except to say that it renders the previous two hours pointless and when you think back the plot holes become gaping chasms.
Beneath all this was a really interesting and scary play about the gentrification of communities just waiting to burst screaming from the wardrobe. But the author kept it firmly locked in while the foxes played.