ALLOWANCES must be made because this was a preview, with the first official performance to come at the New Theatre Royal in Portsmouth on June 9.
So that leaves time for improvement - but it is certainly needed, with an injection of energy top of the shipping-list..
The play is a new version, by the new and youthful Chichester-based Crusade Theatre Company, of a 1904 ghost story by M R James.
It has twice been adapted for television, and of course ghostliness can be achieved equally if not more effectively on stage. But here it amounts to little more than a range of well-judged sound effects and the odd shadowy figure.
The scene-setting is slow and stilted, as are the speaking style and plot development. Pauses are all well and good in such a context if they are sinister, but here they simply get in the way.
Yet writer and director Edward Cockburn does show a deft touch in creating extra characters to bounce off the central figure of a Cambridge academic.
There is some amusing dialogue, and even if the people are largely two-dimensional, they have a basis in truth.
The most rounded performance comes from the warm Lynne Chilton as the Suffolk innkeeper’s wife whose child has mysteriously disappeared from the beach.