Review: The Mist In The Mirror, by Susan Hill, adapted for the stage by Ian Kershaw, New Wolsey Theatre until March 7.

The Mist In The Mirror, the new supernatural thjriller from author Susan Hill which is being turned

The Mist In The Mirror, the new supernatural thjriller from author Susan Hill which is being turned into a stage play at The New Wolsey Theatre, Ipswich and Bury Theatre Royal. - Credit: Archant

Susan Hill, author of The Woman In Black, has a great reputation for penning chilling ghost stories – however, with this latest stage adaptation of her work we have more of an Edwardian melodrama than a 21st century play.

The Mist In The Mirror, the new supernatural thjriller from author Susan Hill which is being turned

The Mist In The Mirror, the new supernatural thjriller from author Susan Hill which is being turned into a stage play at The New Wolsey Theatre, Ipswich and Bury Theatre Royal. - Credit: Archant

This production by Oldham Coliseum and Imitating The Dog theatre company has bags of gothic atmosphere and makes the most of some dazzling projected scenery but it never makes good on a promising first act.

The story follows the quest of a young adventurer James Monmouth who was brought up by a guardian in Africa and then spent many years travelling the world following in the footsteps of adventurer Conrad Vine.

Monmouth becomes obsessed with this gallant explorer and return to England to find out more of this enigmatic man and write his biography. However, on his arrival in England, he is haunted by the figure of a small boy and his every inquiry about Vine is met with warnings for him not to pursue what many feel is a reckless endeavour.

The first act is particularly effective scene-setter. It introduces Monmouth and the narrator, a London gentleman who has been given Monmouth’s journal to read in his club.


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The staging between now and then, is effectively staged with the narrator perched in a chair high in the video-projected set leaving the stage free for Paul Warriner as Monmouth to march his way across the rain-drenched streets of London, the snow-swept Yorkshire Moors and a wonderfully creepy public school.

At the interval we are left on the edge of our seats, wanting to see how this intriguing tale resolves itself. But, sadly, during the break the momentum has somehow been lost.

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What we get in the second act is merely more of the same – more trudging around, more great video projections, more spectral visits, a death which raised a laugh from the audience (never a good thing) and a final dénouement which appeared to have been lifted straight out of a penny dreadful.

Susan Hill’s works work brilliantly on the page but having witnessed one or two supernatural misfires on stage in recent years, you have to wonder whether the modern theatre is the right place for ghost stories.

Andrew Clarke

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