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    Tags: Liverpool_Playhouse, Hammer_Productions, The_Haunting_of_Hill_House, Sarah_OHara

    Review: The Haunting of Hill House





    Who is that whispering in the shadows? What is that shadow crawling across the wall? Stories of ghouls and ghosts have cast a spell on the imagination for hundreds of years, but none as infamous as those told by the Hammer House of Horrors. Their joint production with Sonia Friedman Productions and the Liverpool Playhouse is classic horror at its finest; a two hour descent of mystery and chills.


    In a world dominated by special effects, it’s important to remember that Hammer House set the bar for future films. Their brand of psychological mystery, teamed with classic tales, established the studios as the ultimate masters of the horror genre. The Haunting of Hill House takes us back to that golden blend, where the thing that scares us most is fear itself.


    The production unfolds as a breath taking visual spectacle. Sets twist and turn like the stairs of the old house, while eerie cherubs adorn dark, gothic walls. The dim lights are quite unsettling; your thoughts drifting – what lies around the corner? I lost count of how many times I jumped…or how long I gripped the side of my seat in anticipation. Combined, the story and the set build the tension rapidly as you fall deeper into the events that unfold – only to be awoken with a jolt of the unexpected.


    The unexpected occurs in a story played out seamlessly, by a cast who are as equally talented as classic horror actors before them. Martin Turner’s Dr Montague is calm and collected, yet his glances reveal a character who is more than meets the eye. Inviting three young people to take part in an experiment, their lives soon start to unravel – much like the house they stay in.


    Nell (Emily Bevan) tends to be the focus of the story, with inner monologues revealing glimpses of a mysterious young woman. Bevan’s performance is exemplar of fine storytelling; each movement amongst unspoken words revealing an underlying story to this seemingly innocent character. She had audiences hanging on every word, while her dances and twirls were as every bit as beautiful as they were unnerving – a magnificent performance in this terrifying tale.


    Joseph May’s sceptical journalist played well against Chupo Chung’s Theodora, a natural chemistry occurring between the two actors. They made the audience feel like the action was actually taking place, while their character’s bickering built the atmosphere towards a stand-out performance by Angela Clerkin as Celia Markway.  While some moments were rather humourous – the Boris Karloff reference providing a witty, post-modern nod to a golden era of monster films – The Haunting of Hill House played well to fears of what goes bump in the night.


    As scary as The Woman in Black and with one of the most dramatic climaxes I have ever seen onstage, this is the show you will be talking about for years to come. The Haunting of Hill House is a thrilling ride, a venture into the unknown and a modern horror masterpiece.


    5 stars


    Photographs (C) Gary Carlton

      Sarah's posts By Sarah O' Hara



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