Review: Theatre Group Presents ‘The Canterville Ghost’ @ The Annex 15/12/21

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As a member of both Theatre Group and Showstoppers (the University’s theatre and musical theatre groups respectively), I have seen (and been involved in) quite a few of their shows in my time. The Canterville Ghost certainly didn’t disappoint, I loved it!

The Canterville Ghost is an originally written play by Philip Hoare. It follows an American family who move into the Canterville manor, haunted by the resident ghost, Sir Simon Canterville (Will Fieldhouse). Most of the family torment Sir Simon and are not scared of his antics, much to his disgust.

The family, comprising of a mother, Lucrezia Otis (Mika Woods), father, Hiram Otis (Callum Nelmes), and four children, Edie (Olivia Grindon), Carol (Megan Jones), Virginia (Hannah Swadling) and Washington (Jorge Mateos) all had interesting, individual characters and great American accents. The directing, by Hoare himself, was great. It kept a good pace and was interesting to watch. Special mentions should be given to Lady Canterville (Francesca Ward), Mrs Umney (Cicely Donnett) and Cecil (Issy Steventon). Their characters were funny and engaging and really livened up the stage.

I really liked the way the show gave off such a spooky vibe. I was wondering how the production and tech team would show the ghost and make it creepy but it was really clever. The use of sound effects – creaking doors, thunder and more – and lighting, particularly the green, was a really clever, and well-used, way of giving a spooky vibe and distinguishing between the ghost and living characters. Particularly, the spotlights were well-used and contributed to the atmosphere. The production, done by Emily Dennis, Joely Chalken and Jago Laws-Robinson, also created a spooky vibe. Set in the 1800s, the costumes and staging fit the period well and Fieldhouse’s older, bright green costume went well with both the lighting and made him seem older than the rest. As well as this, I loved the frame that fell off the wall mid-way through the first act. It’s one of my favourite paranormal horror film tropes so it was really exciting to see it on stage! The blood spot behind the frame was also very cleverly done, but you will have to see the show to see what that is all about.

One little touch I really enjoyed was the audience immersion. Virginia, and later other characters, comment on a painting on the wall. The painting is the audience. She jokingly describes the painting and the people within it, and it was a really nice touch.

Finally, for a low-tech slot, the set was great. The grandfather clock had a spotlight pointing at the face. This was used to show the hand mysteriously turning through set changes. I really liked this as it gave something to watch during set changes and distracted the audience as people moved things around the stage. The backdrop was cleverly done with wrapping paper and photo frames and paintings. The minimal staging with a sofa and table meant that the focus was on the acting and suspense was immediately created as I entered the theatre to see two rows of bleachers blocked off by a sheet. You’ll have to watch the show to learn why!

The remaining performances for The Canterbury Ghost have been rescheduled for 12-13 February at the EdLec (34/3001). You can book tickets here:

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Third-year History student, Classic Culture Editor 2021/22. Loves everything theatre and literature but especially horror books and musicals.

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