That Portsmouth has its own professional theatre company in New Apollo is to be celebrated.
It’s good to see them back in the New Theatre Royal with this apposite Halloween offering - adaptations by actor/writer Peter McCrohon of Charlotte Riddell’s 1882 The Haunting of Walnut-Tree House and M R James’ 1904 The Ash-Tree.
The potentially scary ghost did little more than flit on and off raising titters rather than terror
One hopes, with shows like this, to be thrilled and scared; neither piece achieves this, but for different reasons.
Walnut-Tree House fails to chill because of its nature; the story of a child-ghost seeking comfort from his still-living (and now much older) sister. The subject-matter, combined with the charming Raphael McCrohon as the young spirit-boy, is far from scary or thrilling and leaves its viewer with a sense of contentment that wrongs have been righted.
Sadly The Ash-Tree, as presented, is clunky - more, I suspect, due to directorial choices than story or scripting. The cast were insecure with dialogue with several stumbles and dries.
Expositional dialogue was sometimes drowned by over-loud music and the potentially scary ghost did little more than flit on and off raising titters rather than terror.