We were warned several times that the performance of Dickens’ The Haunting by Nasu Enzuru Theatre would be quite frightening, but last night’s final performance at Burwash in Cambridge was scarier than the audience could have imagined.
An outdoors performance in November was a brave decision – but no body could accuse this theatre group of not taking risks.
There were clues early on in the evening; as the audience gathered for warm food and drink in a giant teepee the wind blew out the fire spinner and smoke madly billowed from an open fire. There were rumours that local fireworks displays had been cancelled because of the wind. Excitement grew as the audience was led to the open marquee from where they would view the performance. It was immediately apparent that this was going to be an exceptional evening.
With the help of radio mikes, actors Cael McNally and Luke Harvie could be heard through the howl of the wind – and as the gusts banged cupboard doors on set, it was hard to establish what was a haunting and what was the weather. But they managed to set the scene and establish a rapport with the audience to such an extent that when part of the set collapsed in the wind and crashed to the floor, it almost seemed part of the show. Real terror struck however when a gust shattered a mirror close to the crowd and despite being weighed down by concrete blocks, the marquee lifted off the ground – forcing audience members to cling to the sides to keep it from blowing away.
Miraculously as the rain started to lash down on the performers, they bravely continued. The winds that threatened to end the show, marginally calmed – and through saturated props, a tattered and part-missing set, The Haunting ran its course. This was a real testamont to the skill of the actors on stage, who ad-libbed about “the bloody wind” with a mastery, and still managed to frighten a pre-occupied audience with glimpses of rain-soaked ghosts.
This was a real night to remember – I look forward to their next performance…in the snow maybe?