If you have a liking for ghost stories, then make your way to the Park Theatre in Finsbury Park. James Milton and Paul Morrissey have written and directed a modern take on the genre, which is intriguing, well-acted and excellently presented.
The staging is the disorganised office of John Blondel, a teacher and historian, on the island of Guernsey. For his weekly Vlog on the subject of paranormal events on the Channel Islands he has invited a young man to recount some of the extraordinary tales of the supernatural, for which the islands are apparently renowned. Although an avowed sceptic, as the stories unfold, he becomes increasingly involved in a series of stories which become more than fiction.
Apparently based upon true events, the five stories which were told by the visitor, known only as “The Speaker ” were fascinating and tense. The acting was of a very high order and the performance of Alex Phelps as The Speaker was a tour de force and nicely counterpointed by Will Barton, whose initial composure was seriously perturbed by the stories which encompassed disturbing events from the days of pirates and witches to more recent incidents during the Second World War and the famous storm of 1987. The play runs for 90 minutes without an interval, and the suspense was maintained and increased throughout. You could have heard a pin drop throughout on the press night, when I attended, such was the level of attention which the writing and the presentation commanded.
Everything about this production had been well thought through. The impressively disorganised office with its detritus, worn office equipment and general clutter held not a few surprises of its own as the stories unfolded and special mention should be made of the lighting design by Bethany Gupwell and sound design by Daniel Higgott which were perfectly set up and timed to build the suspense.
For those who are still somewhat nervous about venturing out in these pandemic days the Park Theatre have gone out of their way to make the audience feel comfortable with socially distance seating in their Park 200 auditorium. I can unreservedly recommend this production for anyone who wants an evening of fine writing, suspenseful storytelling and excellent acting.
Playing at the Park Theatre until the 4September, full details and tickets can be found at https://www.parktheatre.co.uk/whats-on/when-darkness-falls
Reviewer: Paul Ackroyd
Reviewed: 24th August 2021
North West End UK Rating: ★★★★★