Jen Silverman has come up with a splendid variation on the young woman goes to lonely house to discover her employers are not what she expected, there is somebody locked in the attic and the countryside is full of bogs into which one sinks and wild animals ready to attack. The inspiration is that this is all mixed up with the Bronte sisters who kept diaries. There is a first rate set (Sophia Pardon) and the performances are fine but it lasts two hours not including the interval – at 90 minutes straight through it would work very well indeed but at two hours one gets a little tired of it all. But this is its professional premiere so maybe some lessons will have been learned. Silverman has managed that difficult trick of making a Gothic horror tale funny while packing in some really frightening moments and director Phil Bartlett has ensured the cast approach their roles with the necessary deadly seriousness. Governess Emilie (Meredith Lewis) arrives at the house on the moors in which live sisters Agatha (Imogen Mackenzie), the nasty one, and Hulder (Kenia Fenton), the nice one who keeps a diary. They have a servant or servants – it is never clear how many as they are all played by the same person (Tamara Fairbairn sometimes nasty seldom nice). They also own a mastiff (Peter Hadfield) which is in love with an injured moorhen (Matilda Childs). Obviously not everyone is going to survive and the surprises do keep coming as the body count rises and Agatha and Emilie discover love – not something expects of Gothic horror.
But it reallys overlong. Things are saved because the second half speeds up and it is interesting to discover just who is walled up in the attic and why – although quite how the reason was going to be implemented remains unclear. But then it is not clear why when there is a perfectly good azx to hand the murder weapon turns out to be a candlestick.
Huldey: Kenia Fenton.
Agatha: Imogen Mackenzie.
Emilie: Meredith Lewis.
Marjory: Tamara Fairbairn.
The Mastiff: Peter Hadfield.
A Moor-Hen: Matilda Childs.
Director: Phil Bartlett.
Music Supervisor: Nicole Johnson.
Se & Costume Design: Sophia Pardon.
Lighting Design: Jonathan Simpson.
Sound Design & Composer: Julian Starr.
Production Photographs: Steve Gregson.