The Haunting is the first play in the Richard Whitmore Studio next season, directed by Alistair Brown assisted by choreographer Lynette Driver.
Basically this is a two hander for two men. But not quite, as there are also Mary, a young bride and the mysterious ‘Fates’.
The year is 1867. The setting a library in an ancient manor house, isolated and decaying, deep in a bleak, windswept moor. A young man in his twenties is waiting for his host, the middle aged businessman Lord Gray. It is cold, no welcoming fire, no food. Strange. This young London book dealer, David Filde, attended a Verdi opera premiere the night before he left town. As he slips into sleep, echoes of that music drift through his mind. Is what follows real, or a dream, or a nightmare? Perhaps a premonition? Or is it a flashback?
Filde has come to catalogue and value Lord Gray’s large collection of antique books. But it’s not long before he finds himself disturbed by strange occurrences in the house. Unexplained noises. A copy of Crime and Punishment that flies from the book shelves. Then as the first day ends, and darkness descends, there’s a faint voice and inexplicably Filde finds that he is locked in the library overnight.
The Haunting recently enjoyed an extensive professional UK tour with David Robb, (better known as Doctor Clarkson in Downton Abbey) as a droll and stylish Gray. East Ender Charlie Clements was David. It’s an adaptation that blends five of Charles Dickens’ short ghost stories, where the character of David Filde is based on Dickens himself. No doubt Dickens with his interest in trickery and spiritualism would not be surprised to learn that when young David woke the day after the strange voice in the night, the books in Gray’s library seem to have moved.
It’s a small speaking cast of three that will need a very good sense of timing, and the ability to synchronise exactly both to sound/video effects and an extensive classical music underscore. Ditto ‘The Fates’!
- David Filde
- A fresh-faced young man, quite clearly a generation younger than Lord Gray, who sees him as too young and inexperienced for the job. Has a number of longish speeches where underscore and effects will be introduced. A reasonable mover would be preferred.
- Lord Gray
- Middle aged, esoteric, droll, cynical and reserved. Gray mysteriously appears later in the play as an even older, more distinguished and definitely more cheerful man. Has even more longish speeches than Filde. Again these will be underscored and movement will be involved.
- Playing age has to be younger than David Filde. A really good mover will be preferred with the ability to create atmospheric moments reminiscent of the creepier silent movies. Vocally in speech should be able to copy the cadence pattern of one particular operatic phrase.
- ‘The Fates’
- You won’t find these in the script! It’s a physical theatre idea pinched from ballet (Royal Dutch Ballet Cinderella). We are looking for four to six people who can be quite physical in their movements – not necessarily classically dance trained but able to create character, effect and atmosphere through movement. They will move parts of the minimal set and props to create a backdrop for the actors and the story, and also directly enhance the audience experience.