It’s difficult to imagine a better theatre in which to see Susan Hill’s classic ghost story than Southsea’s Kings Theatre.
OK, so the theatre’s not a remote, dilapidated house, cut off from the outside world and haunted by a malevolent woman in black.
But it’s so steeped in history, so rich in its very own period detail, there’s no doubting the Kings itself massively enhances the experience as we plunge into the dark, terrifying world of one Arthur Kipps, the young solicitor whose peace of mind is wrecked by the otherworldly happenings which unman him for life when he’s sent on a seemingly-straightforward mission to wade through paperwork.
It’s not long before he’s creeping through terror, prey to a ghastly vision intent on revenge.
There’s something a little laboured in the set-up in which Kipps in later life employs an actor to recreate the whole episode in the hope of exorcising it from his mind.
But thanks to the skill of Malcolm James as Arthur and Matt Connor as the Actor, the show is soon into its ghostly stride, helped along by some suitably sinister lighting, chairs that rock by themselves and some shadowy gauze...
Of course, it’s not as terrifying as the producers would like to think, but it’s a massively-impressive piece of stagecraft which works wonderfully well – thanks in no small part to the Kings itself.