‘The Ghost Train’ is a modern classic, written in 1927 by Arnold Ridley; the play was updated and revised two or three times, with this adaptation being from 1976. Ridley was better known as doddery Private Godfrey in TV’s ‘Dad’s Army’. Arnold was 72 yrs. old when the series began and 81 when the 80 episodes finished.
This 10-performance season has been an instant success with VERY few tickets left – try Mel at TAZ Tix, she will try her best. This mind stretching drama has curtain up each evening at 7.30 until Saturday 14th, with a matinée at 2.00 pm on Sunday 15th December. There was a Charity Performance on Thursday 5th December. So, hurry along to the Harbour Theatre production in the Mosman Park Memorial Hall (aka Camelot Theatre), 16 Lochee Street on the corner of Solomon Street in Mosman Park.
The scene: a remote and haunted Cornish railway station in the 1920s.
The set: Peter Kirkwood’s design brought to life this highly realistic grotty, dirty and miserable British Rail waiting room that was always a frightening place. The fabulous set was built by Brian Mahoney, Phil Redding, Matt Cuccovia, David Eggleston, Shaun Griffin, Tina Barker and Alan Briscoe.
The grubby room had cream painted walls and scuffed wooden panels. The rear wall had a central exit door leading to the platform, with cobweb covered windows on each side. A coal fire was burning in an authentic grate. To the left of the stage was a door to a storeroom and office and a ticket window with a sliding shutter. The decor was painted by Brian and Phil, with the artistic touches and signage by Melissa Bassett.
The room had a collection of basic wooden school benches – even 50 yrs. later there were no chairs in these rooms.
Rob Tagliaferri and Vanessa Gudgeon’s lighting and sound designs were complex, with several multilayered episodes of sound. Vanessa had selected several pieces of spooky music with ghost train themes – I did not know there were any. Rob produced a convincing visual impression of a passing train. The script also called for dramatic weather effects, with the booming thunder shaking the auditorium; the two operators were perfectly synced with their speciality effects. Well done.
Stage manager Shaun Griffin was assisted by Bjorn Speicher and Jamie Lang controlled the trains’ steam effects.
Another quality programme from Nicola Bond and Docuprint.
As the Cornish stationmaster, Saul (Tom Rees – in a part originally played by the author) is clearing up the waiting room when a 30 years old couple enter; they are Richard Winthrop (Rob Jackson) who is constantly arguing with Elsie (Andrea O’Donnell) his deeply unhappy wife. At the same time a stern old spinster, Miss Bourne (Tina Barker – wonderful) who is travelling alone, enters carrying her parrot in a cage. A honeymoon couple Charles Murdoch (Liam Crevola) and his young wife of only 12 hrs, Peggy (Solonje Burns) sweep in and unashamedly embrace. A smarmy, loud-mouthed and self-obsessed Englishman, Teddy (Ben Lowther) who is wearing plus-fours and a garish tie, mocks the lovebirds before picking on each of the people present one at a time. The stationmaster starts to lock up the buildings intending to set off for home on his bike. When the passenger refuse to leave the minimal warmth of the waiting room, Saul tells the group about a train – two years ago – that passed through the station in the middle of the night, when he knew for a fact that there were no trains in the area. After a few minutes an emotional, glamourous woman in a ballgown arrives, she is Julia Price (Meredith Hunter). Dripping with jewellery, she seems to be a mystic or medium and her husband Herbert (Marcus McGavock) is equally as strange. After a health issue, another passenger, Dr Sterling (Paul Cook) attends the patient.
Before the final curtain Jackson (Shaun Griffin) and a police officer (Jamie Lang) arrive on the scene.
A further walk-on part was played by Bjorn Speicher and Jo Sterkenburg who proved that she is ‘a tough old bird’.
The delightful 1920’s costumes were supplied by the cast, with the extra trimmings and adornments supervised by Nyree Hughes and Ann Speicher.
Director, Ann Speicher has been blessed with a fabulous cast. The author created several very different characters and by working with each actor individually, a rich depth to each person has been created. With clever interaction the teamwork was impeccable. Ben Lowther gave us the most annoying human on the planet, a few of the audience felt that if he was not dead at the end of the play, they would personally tie him to the railway line.
Everyone kept their secrets with no hint of how the play would end. An all-round great production that deserves its massive success.