The Victorian may have been a materialistic lot but they did enjoy a good ghost story. Charles Dickens wrote a number of such tales, quite apart from A Christmas Carol, and four of these have been dramatised and directed by Julian Harries and Pat Whymark for their Common Ground Theatre Company. The Signalman, The Hanged Man’s Bride, The Queer Chair and The Chimes are presented within the framing device of Master Humphrey’s Clock.
Five actors take all the parts and contribute to the sound effects and music created by Whymark and Alfred Harries. Hese are extremely effective and help to maintain the tension, though there are also moments of fun and farce. The Chimes are those of the New Year, though are many similarities with A Christmas Carolas the protagonist is visited by a series of apparitions.The Queer Chairis a highly vocal piece of furniture.
A brace of travelling salesmen come into contact withThe Hanged Man’s Bride, though only one feels the full force of the visitation. Tragedy in a railway tunnel cannot be averted byThe Signalman,however hard he tries. Patrick Marlowe and both the Harries do very well in a variety of parts with strong support from Madeleine Cooke – who is given a very attractive number to sing – and Nicholas Agnew. Small-scale touring theatre seems to be very much alive in East Anglia.