Review | Ghost Stories at The Spring Arts Centre, Havant: 'HumDrum are back – with a vengeance'
For their return from the depths of lockdown, HumDrum have not only come up with an inventively structured show, but they have devised it themselves.
At its heart is the dramatisation of four Victorian and Edwardian tales of the supernatural, all by established masters of the genre.
Holding them together is the fifth tale, an original story created by James George and written by Ben Counter.
From that beginning, the cast of five took over. Mr George and Mr Counter are both among the five.
And, just in case he didn’t have quite enough of a voice in the project, Mr George directs the whole thing to great effect.
If you are sceptical about the paraphernalia of things that go bump in the night, discard your reservations and buy a ticket.
If they are right up your haunted street, you won’t be disappointed.
Each of the four borrowed tales is well chosen, subtly contrasting with each other, and, perhaps most importantly for the mounting tension of the evening, told in the right order.
No spoilers here, but the embracing piece that gives us the characters who enact the four stories will keep you guessing and builds to a satisfying end.
The key to the success of Ghost Stories is the simplicity of its staging.
Our credibility is never strained by risky special effects. Instead, our own imaginations are stimulated at climactic moments to do a lot of the work.
There are some good sound effects and some very good lighting design from Lee Stoddart which makes full use of The Spring’s new lighting rig.
Ultimately though, the most effective stagecraft comes from the acting.
The cast work well as a team.
The sheer range of material gives each of them great opportunities to show off their skills in characterisation and direct address to the audience. Gemma Valler and Sean Fisher rise particularly well to the challenge.
Both physically and vocally they relish every nuance of light and shade, wit and drama in their roles.
The other three each find their moments. Vickey Ferguson and Ben Counter are very strong in the third and fourth tales respectively, and James George excels as the storyteller of the last and most powerful tale.
HumDrum are back – with a vengeance.
A message from the Editor, Mark Waldron
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