It felt a little unnerving to be sat amongst an intimate audience for New Apollo Theatre’s double bill of Halloween horror plays – the rather apt surrounding of the 14th century venue adding to the spooky atmosphere.
First up was Thomas Hardy’s The Withered Arm in which Farmer Lodge returns home with a new wife, Gertrude, finely acted by Charlotte Mackie. One morning she wakes up with a disfigured arm and, desperate to find a cure, seeks help from a conjuror – it has a shock ending with a great twist.
The Grange, directed by Peter McCrohon, is a real spine-tingler that had me transfixed from the start and did literally make me jump in my seat. Francesca McCrohon is a frightful delight, as is the dark, guttural voice of priest Christopher Marlowe.
These plays remind the audience that the sense of danger is as real to you as it is the people on the stage. Kudos to the quintet of actors for two chilling performances – perfect Halloween fodder.
From tonight the plays move to The Cellars at Eastney until Friday.