The Wolves of Willoughby Chase, 4****, London

By Joan Aiken
Adapted by Russ Tunney.


The Brockley Jack Studio, 410 Brockley Road, London SE4 2DH to 6 January 2018.
Tues-Sat 7.30pm.
Runs 2hr One interval.

TICKETS: 0333 666 3366
Review: William Russell 14 December.

Gorgeous Gothic goings on
Last year it was Baskerville’s hounds who were howling at the Jack – this year it is the wolves that chase all who dare to visit Willoughby Chase who are making a noise to chill the blood. Kate Bannister’s production is slick as can be and the cast double and treble roles with abandon. Bonnie Green (Rebecca Rayne) is left in charge of a governess, a distant relative called Miss Slighcarp (Adam Elliott), when her father goes off to take her ailing mother for a restorative holiday. Miss Slighcarp has designs on the family fortune and, when mummy and daddy are reportedly lost at sea, poor Bonnie and her cousin Sylvia (Julia Pagett) end up in an extremely horrible boarding school where they are treated as drudges. But they escape , with the help of strapping Simon, who is a houseboy at Willoughby Chase, get to London, find their Aunt, meet a helpful doctor and unmask Miss Slighcarp and her associates in crime, all of whom seem to be played by Bryan Pilkington, and everything ends happily.

The set is pretty, there are songs, a wolf appears briefly but lots of them howl from the wings, and all the ingredients for a rattling good yard are there. Adam Elliot makes a splendid Slighcarp, lanky, menacing and extremely hissable, while Bryan Pilkington manages to be the crooked lawyer who is her associate in crime, the headmistress of that boarding school for charity children, and Bonnie’s absent daddy, not all at the same time although sometimes it seems like it. The heroines are charming and sing sweetly from time to time. Mr Elliot manages to appear as a rather tall orphan pupil at the school and is dashing as the London doctor who helps the runaways, while Andrew Hollingworth is in fine fettle as Simon, the chap to melt the hearts of any young girls around, not to mention that of an evil headmistress, the Hall’s houseboy. He appears selling ducks as his excuse for calling at the school, which leads – after she has purchased them – for the buxom headmistress to issue him with an invitation to come round later and show her his livestock.

Miss Slighcarp: Adam Elliott.
Bonnie Green: Rebecca Rayne,
Simon: Andrew Hollingworth.
Mr Grimshaw: Bryan Pilkington.
Sylvia Green: Julia Pagett.
All other parts played by the company.

Director: Kate Bannister.
Composer: Elliot Clay.
Set Designer: Karl Swinyard.
Lighting Designer: Ben Jacobs.
Sound Designer: Jack Barton.
Costume Designer: Martin Robinson.
Movement Director: Roman Berry.
Fight Director: Keith Wallis.
Assistant Director: Thomas Attwood.

2017-12-18 10:14:37

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