I Used To Hear Footsteps – The Studio, Derby Theatre

Writer: Jack A. G. Britton

Reviewer:  Hannah Powell

A thought provoking show designed to make even the most sceptic spectator sit upright, I Used to Hear Footsteps tells the tale of writer and actor Jack Britton’s childhood home in Beeston, Nottingham, and the supernatural happenings surrounding it. The audience is invited to join Jack as he presents his findings in an attempt to create links between his family’s experience and that of other past occupants.

From the very beginning a creepy ambiance is set, with the only light coming from a small hand-held torch and a 90s style overhead projector placed in the middle of the space. It is upon this that he presents the audience with images from his childhood in the house with the addition of an old school chalk board underneath.  During a question and answer session afterwards, Britton was asked about his use of the chalkboard to which he replied that he wanted to display each time zone of the play from a medium real to that time. A chalk board for the original builder and owner, a 90s projector for his residence, and his new age lecturing style for the present day occupants. A very interesting concept which proves to be effective, however his writing upon the chalk board becomes difficult to make out as the show progresses, and occasionally the images from the opverhead projector can be distorted and difficult to make out, unfortunately losing some of the immersive nature and atmosphere he achieves at the beginning.

Britton starts his story by asking the question “Do you believe in the supernatural?” and so it begins. With the help of a dictaphone, his mother’s voice echoes throughout the small space, detailing her experiences within the house, from hearing footsteps on the landing to children’s toys moving by themselves. The emotion within her voice tells you this is real: real events, real story, real people. Other occupants are interviewed on their experiences and links begin to be made, and similarities presented.

Britton’s voice is well projected, slow and measured, as would be expected from a teacher, but in parts loses some of the emotion attached to the story by the continuation of his lecturing style rather than a change in tone. It is because of this that the inclusion of his attempt to reconnect with his father comes across more as a late addition to the piece, that doesn’t quite fit rather than a sustained theme throughout the play.

Overall, an enjoyable hour long piece which keeps the audience engaged but just misses the mark in sustaining the necessary spooky atmosphere needed when telling a ghost story.

Reviewed on 27 January 2017 | Image: Contributed

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