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The Haunting Review at Jack Studio Theatre, London – ‘winning blend of humour and intrigue’

Robert Durbin and Jamie Laird as David Filde and Lord Gray Robert Durbin and Jamie Laird as David Filde and Lord Gray

It makes a welcome change to experience a festive chill instead of the usual good cheer in this alternative Christmas show. A ghost story of the traditional kind, there are plenty of unexplained noises, wailing maidens and a jittery host, who is certainly playing his cards very close to his chest.

In an era when it takes something out of the ordinary – and usually rather brutal – to shock an audience looking for a fright, the formulaic, Woman in Black-style shenanigans may not thrill all viewers. However, experiencing the story unfolding in such intimate surroundings does help to achieve the desired effect.

Jamie Laird (Lord Gray) and Robert Durbin (David Filde) are both very capable fright night commandeers, who whip up a winning blend of intrigue, humour and suspense. Yet, at times the pace slows down a bit too much – even at a running time of less than an hour and a half, there is room for a bit of editing.

As with many ghost stories, when the troubled spirit reveals itself, the rising tension disintegrates somewhat – Julia Pagett’s earlier appearances as Mary are the most enjoyable and it’s fun to guess where she is going to flash up next.

All credit to the set, lighting and sound design trio who have created a genuinely eery atmosphere, taking the audience members’ flights of fancy and – for a short while – making us feel truly unnerved.

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Verdict
A traditional ghost story in which the atmosphere created is more impressive than the tale itself
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