The Haunting | Prince Moo ProductionsLeft – Gig Clarke – Cameron Daddo. Photos – Nicole Riseley

The gothic form seems to have gained a foothold in Australian theatres within recent years. It is perhaps then, due to the title of this play, pertinent to discuss the point that, in this reviewer’s opinion, this particular piece is not gothic.

Certainly, the narrative takes place in a dilapidated English country house in Victorian England. The narrative is driven by supernatural activity, and many token references to gothic literature are made throughout the play. But this play lacks the particular catharsis, and human evaluation, that lies at the heart of the gothic literary form.

Written by Hugh Janes, The Haunting is based on several ghost stories by Charles Dickens. It is an amalgamation of tales, based around two central characters, Lord Gray and David Filde, played by Cameron Daddo and Gig Clarke respectively. The acting by these two professionals is really top tier, although the choice to mic the stage, which proved something of a distraction, perhaps speaks of their careers as film and television actors.

The direction of the play is to be commended in many ways. Jennifer Sarah Dean really shows her breadth of experience in the convincing stylistic composition of this production. On the whole, Dean, and her creative team have created a really enjoyable show. However, in dealing with the supernatural in performance, a certain degree of precision in execution is absolutely essential. Unfortunately, on too many occasions this simply wasn’t achieved. In a professional production, one expects that lighting cues will be exact, that set is stylistically suitable, and that accents are accurate to the setting into which the audience are being immersed. It is sometimes the small things that count for the most.

The choice of text is possibly the greatest of concerns in this reviewer’s opinion. The ending of the play is problematic to say the least, and certain design choices did not make these problems any more palatable. Had a more bold approach been afforded to the rectification of these textual ambiguities, this production might provide audiences with a great deal… as it stands, it provides little in the way of critical substance.

Prince Moo Productions presents
The Haunting
by Hugh Janes

Directed by Jennifer Sarah Dean

Venue: The Athenaeum Theatre | 188 Collins Street, Melbourne VIC
Dates: 14 June – 1 July 2017
Tickets: $79 – $69
Booking: | 13 28 49


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