Review: Theatre of Ghosts at Rose Theatre, Chesterfield

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Blood-curdling screams, eerie voices and a masked ghost in a haunted house are the perfect ingredients for a fright night.

Stir in a spooky story, add flashing lights and dry ice and employ four talented actors to deliver the meaty feast to hungry viewers.

Theatre of Ghosts is the ideal treat for Halloween week with so many tricks up its sleeve that even Hercule Poirot would be hard-pressed to predict the end result.

It’s great to see a play premiered in Chesterfield, especially when it’s the first in-house production at the town’s Rose Theatre which opened last year.

The whole shooting match is a labour of love by the theatre’s artistic director Jonathan Francis who has written the play, directs it and is also responsible for lighting and sound design.

Technically, it’s spook-tacular with enough bangs, creaks and flashes of light to scare you witless while the shadowy spectre which appears when you least expect it is the stuff of nightmares. All credit to Charlotte Noakes for the show’s visual effects.

The four performers bring light to the dark story. especially Karen Henson playing the posh, eccentric lady of the house who revisits her thespian roots to play out the domestic history of the hall’s late owner.

Susan Earnshaw heads the cast as the literary researcher whose hunt for Marlowe’s lost play brings her to the haunted house. Cue screams aplenty as her character is the target for visitations by the masked ghost and panic-stricken looks as she hears things that crash and creak in the dead of night.

Andrew Moore does the posh accent very well in his role as trusty agent to the hall’s owner and Sarah Wynne Kordas is suitably deferential and loyal as lady’s maid and nurse.

A bit more movement around the stage wouldn’t go amiss as there are spells where the characters sit around talking or reading from scripts.

But Theatre of Ghosts is certainly well worth checking out. Performances are at 7.30pm until Saturday, November 1.

GAY BOLTON

Photo of Susan Earnshaw by Ian Boler