Antique book dealer David Filde (James Roache) is employed by Lord Grey (David Robb) to catalogue his late father’s impressive library.While doing so, Filde experiences a series of strange and unexplained events in the family’s crumbling and isolated mansion in The Haunting.
Technical excellence is much in evidence in Bill Kenwright’s presentation of Hugh Janes’s adaptation of Charles Dickens’s ghost stories. Produced to celebrate Dickens’s 200th anniversary, The Haunting not only adapts the author’s ghost stories but highlights his fascination with spiritualism.
The play takes place in a suitably impressive set designed by Simon Scullion, and Jonathan Suffolk’s soundscape (along with original music by Laura Tisdall) and Nick Riching’s careful lighting combine to create an ethereal, tense atmosphere with ghostly effects. Director Hugh Wooldridge captures the dramatic peaks and troughs of Dickensian storytelling but doesn’t over use the special effects – and the production is stronger for that.
David Robb has an undeniable charisma and gravitas, and James Roache is equally well cast as a young, eager-to-please professional; the two share moments of humour as well as terror. There are some shocking, scary moments in The Haunting, the full audience at The Lowry’s Quays Theatre gasp as one on a few occasions.
The denouement is tied up too quickly, and unsatisfactorily, though this seems in keeping with the Dickensian melodrama of this polished production.