"Good ghost story for Christmas"
by remotegoat reviewer for remotegoat on 08/12/09

Anthony Clark finishes both the 50th anniversary year and his tenure as Artistic Director of Hampstead Theatre with a wonderful ghost story for family audiences (children 11 and over), Michael Punter's Darker Shores.

Beautifully set and lit (by Paul Farnsworth and Tim Mitchell), this play is entertaining in all the right ways. It has an inky black underbelly but is full of laughs and well acted by Julian Rhind-Tutt as Tom Beauregard, Tom Goodman-Hill as Professor Gabriel Stokes, Pamela Miles as Agnes Hinchcliffe and Vinette Robinson as Florence Kennedy.

Tom Goodman-Hill stepped in at less than a week's notice to replace Mark Gatiss and does a fantastic job of providing the stiff English Victorian counterpart to Rhind-Tutt's dissolute southern American Confederate Army deserter. If I had one qualm at all it would be Rhind-Tutt's Louisiana accent but in the context of the play, it hardly matters.

All good ghostly ingredients are in place: the spooky country house haunted by its owner who perished of leprosy, seances galore, spells to ward off both the disease and the haunting, sudden storms which send the lights spinning and flashing, endless unexplained noises and apparitions at the locked windows. None of this suits Ms. Hinchcliffe, who has inherited the house from her dead master and wants to turn it into a hotel. But she too finally falls prey to the supernatural. Only the lovely mulatto housemaid, Florence, keeps her cool. She almost gets the leading man but does at the end get the house!

The play bowls along at a good pace and it would be Scrooge indeed who didn't find it an enjoyable seasonal treat. Michael Punter is still in the early stages of a writing career which should see him become a well-known name.

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