Wednesday, 1 April 2015

THE MIST IN THE MIRROR by Oldham Coliseum Theatre.
Nottingham Playhouse​

Susan Hill's follow up book to "The Woman In Black" is set in the same gothic era and while it's not as scary as the theatrical version of "Woman In Black" there are several "jumpy" moments to be had. Creating the same tension and atmosphere in the theatre is not as easy as in a film, but when you have the air of anticipation of something live just yards away from you provides a certain feel that watching a film doesn't hold.

Sir James Monmouth has travelled all his life. After the death of his parents, he was raised by his guardian. Later, he began to travel and arrives in England. He sees a young, pale ghostlike boy upon his arrival at the Cross Keys Inn. Strangely, he happens to see this ghost more often in the following months that he is in England. His goal is to gain as much information as possible about the great traveller, Conrad Vane.Even after being discouraged and warned of his pursuit of Vane, Momnouth refused to listen which ultimately led to his downfall.

It's the kind of story you'd read on a dark, snowy, wintry night with just the light of a roaring, crackling fire to bring to life the words on the page. You know what I mean.

While the story is of gothic Edwardianism, the technology that lifts the words from the page to dance in front of your eyes is completely 21st century. The projected images of the various locations, rooms and weather images transport you to places outside the realms of the theatre stage and carries you on a journey just steps behind Monmouth. Great dramaturgy created by Andrew Quick, and for those who didn't know what this theatrical term meant, and had to consult a dictionary, the definition is " Dramaturgy is the art of dramatic composition and the representation of the main elements of drama on the stage."

What really creates the atmosphere here and the "jumpy" moments is the combination of the sound design (Lorna Munden) and the lighting design (Andrew Crofts). Hand in hand these two brought a certain eeriness to the theatre; a visual and aural delight for horror and suspense fans.

Director Barney George has ensured that the snappiness and impact are kept very tight and just a second lapse would have detracted from the "surprise/shock" element of the appearances of the white faced spectral boy who stalked Monmouth to his death. The surprise element also worked well on the closing scene, which I will not reveal!

The play is along the same lines as "Woman In Black" with just a small cast, this time just five actors who all would not seem out of place in a Basil Rathbone or Jeremy Brett drama, wonderfully authentic period acting.

"The Mist In The Mirror" is one for fans of gothic mystery but don't expect it to better, or rival "Woman In Black" because it won't but you will enjoy the uneasiness of the story and you can marvel at the wonder of what can be produced in modern theatre technically.It's definitely worth a watch but not from behind your fingers this time round.

This spooky tale can be seen at the Nottingham Playhouse until Saturday 4 April 2015

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