The Haunting of Alice Bowles by Philip Franks. Original Theatre on Line to 28 February 2021.. 4****. William Russell.

Theatres may be shut but a brave new world has opened out there in which actors, directors and all those who worked in the world no shuttered have been continuing to produce work. Original Theatre has been remarkably successful in bringing productions it has toured onto the screen. This horror ghost story based on The Experiment by M R James is a polished and well performed affair. I am not a fan of M R James – celebrated as a writer of ghost stories though he is he seldom chills my blood. But this adaptation is a skillful attempt to do so and it succeeded.
The on line productions they have fielded have been seen in 32 countries around the world, which is pretty good for what were in some cases touring shows that would only have been seen here. The Experiment is one of his shorter tales and had not been done before – there was a fashion for television to do James ghost stories at Christmas – which is what attracted Philip Franks to it, that and it is about a world afflicted by sickness. He has combined the then with the now.
Two young people are looking in a graveyard where victims of the Spanish fly pandemicin 1918 are buried and become fascinated with the story of one of them, which leads us to Alice Bowles, a widow with an adopted son, whose husband is dead. She is not in mourning. The son is deeply damaged, the dead man and his friends had abused him. It seems they are broke. Where is the money? And why are strange things happening to the two young people of today unearthing the story.
Lets leave it there. Go find out for yourself. Tamzin Outhwaite is an impressive as the widow who wants her hisband buried and refused to go to his funeral, Jack Archer suffers effectively as the damaged son Joseph while Max Bowden as Matt, the modern day ghost hunter learns some things are better left alone.
You google Original Theatre On Line, tickets costs £15 and you can watch as many times as you like. You will also find the company’s other productions when you do.

Max Bowden: Matt
Alexandra Guelff: Caitlin.
Stephen Boxer: Dr Hall.
Poppy Roe: Mrs Ivy.
Tamzin Outhwaite: Alice.
Jack Archer: Joseph.
Robert Mountford: Lawyer.
Tim Treloar: Boatman.

Director: Phlip Franks &Alastair Whatley.
Designer: Adrian Linford.
Director of Filming: Tristan Shepherd.
Sound Design & Composer: Max Pappenheim.
Costume Supoervisor: Siobhan Boyd.

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