The Haunting, King's Theatre, Review

Submitted by Alex Eades on Thu, 3 Mar '11 9.49pm
Rating (out of 5)
Show details
Bill Kenwright Ltd
Hugh Wooldridge (Director), Hugh Janes (Writer), Simon Scullion (Designer), Jonathan Lipman (Costume Designer), Nick Richings (Lighting Designer), Laura Tisdall (Original Music)
Paul Nicholas (Lord Gray), Charlie Clements (David Filde), Emily Altneu (Mary)
Running time

Anybody that knows me will tell you without any hesitation that when it comes to tales of ghouls and ghosts, I am always the one hiding my face behind the pillow and, sometimes, simultaneously blocking my ears with my shoulders (an odd manoeuvre, admittedly, but one I’ve perfected through desperation). I scream, jump, whimper and change my underwear almost constantly.

But I love it. There is no genre quite like the horror genre. I read The Exorcist from cover to cover in one sitting and saw Paranormal Activity five times (even though I didn’t have the courage to watch the ending until the last occasion).

When I saw that The Haunting was arriving at The King’s Theatre, I knew that I had to see it. With my best friend by my side, practically holding hands in fear and anticipation, we found our seats, took off our coats and raised them to our chins.

The lights go down. The sound goes up. The horror begins.

A young book dealer, David Filde, arrives at an ancient mansion to catalogue the library of an old family associate. But the nights are plagued with hideous noises and ghostly visions, prompting Filde to delve further into the history of the house and the family that has inhabited it. A journey that leads to an unimaginable terror and an unbelievable truth that will change his life forever.

My expectations were high for this production having seen the fantastically creepy Woman In Black last year and for the most part I was not disappointed.

The show is charmingly acted by its two leads, whose relationship blossoms beautifully from distrusting strangers to curious friendship. But the greatest performance comes from the set itself. Its eerie quality sets the imagination on fire and, if you dare take your eyes off it, it will shriek and unleash hell before your eyes. Books fly, doors blow open, and pictures reach from the walls.

The scares are effective, as was evident by the amount of screaming splitting the auditorium. The imagery is deathly and the silence as creepy as anything you are likely to have experienced. Every trick in the book is used here and it makes for one white-knuckle ride through the icy blackness.

If there are any niggles, it is that the story is quite a familiar one and, on reflection, it is perhaps not quite as effective as the remarkably similar Woman In Black. The ending is also a little confusing, leaving the audience feeling a little cheated and unsure of what we had just witnessed.

Overall this is wonderful entertainment and definitely worth the admission ticket. Just take an extra bag of nerves.

Show times

Monday 28 February - Saturday 5 March