Raymond Sargent brings to life two classic short stories by two of the world’s master storytellers by taking on the mantle of the various characters. Both tales border on the supernatural, the first being the casual meeting of a wealthy industrialist who has benefited from the expansion of the railways, with a lone signalman in his box close to a tunnel.
Sargent plays both men in conversation providing a clear picture of the steep incline leading down to the signal box and the unease generated when the signalman tells his unexpected visitor he has seen a ghostly figure standing at the entrance to the tunnel. The clever use of lighting and some excellent railway sound effects create an atmosphere that is almost tangible.
Rain accompanied by thunder is heard at the start of the second story, The Three Strangers by Thomas Hardy. The setting, a lonely shepherd’s cottage, where a party is being held to celebrate a christening. Playing a penny whistle, drum and recorder, Sargent, who also wrote the original music for his adaptation, enters through the audience. Three times there is a knock at the door as three strangers arrive. Who are they and what do they want? Sargent conveys an atmosphere of celebration which gradually becomes pregnant with suspense.
First presented in 1990 to celebrate the 150th anniversary of Hardy’s birth, Sargent originally planned a cast of four for his adaptation. When funding failed to materialise, he staged it very successfully as a one man show.