Writer: Arnold Ridley
Director: Paul Hunter
Reviewer: Taylor Simmons
Reminiscent of The 39 Steps, Arnold Ridley’s The Ghost Train is a 1920s mystery thriller drama which continues to be re-imagined and performed since its London debut in 1925. The story follows a group of travellers who have been stranded at a remote railway station – a station with a dark, mysterious and haunting past. During the opening act, the station master issues warnings of impending death to anyone who should look directly at the ghost train – if a ghost train should indeed come…
Told By An Idiot’s production is distinctive, innovative and everything theatre should be. With a strong cast of actors at the helm, the story is seamlessly told throughserious storytelling, playful comedy and mixed gender multi-rolling.
Calum Finlay as Teddie Deakin is the perfect mix of charm, naivety and seriousness. He is at ease working with the audience, breaking the fourth wall bringing us – the audience into the events. The two married couples, the Winthrop’s (Sam Alexander and Ayesha Antoine) and the Murdock’s (Will Merrick and Lena Kaur) are well cast in their rôles; their combined use of voice and physicality were perfectly executed together to create both drama and comedy with fluidity and skill.
Javier Marzan as Miss Bourne and Herbert Price, is a highlight of the production – his Spanish accent adding intrigue and humour to a rôle which could easily fall into the shadows. Amanda Hadingue as Julia Price and Saul Hodgkin, demonstrates great range in her characterisations, moving seamlessly from old station master to crazed local woman with ease and panache. Joanna Holden as Jackson is a comedic delight from start to finish – her solo recap opening Act Two was a particular highlight.
Laura Hopkins’ production design is excellent. The ambiance of the 1920s was perfectly created in the grand main space of the Royal Exchange. With simple train platform seating as the main focal point, various props and furniture were perfectly pulled together alongside a suitably atmospheric sound design from Adrienne Quartly to make this production an exciting, often unexpected, experience for the audience.
Director Paul Hunter has indeed ‘pulled out all the stops’ with this latest co-production. Cleverly directed and constructed, he certainly does not live up to his company’s namesake. ‘Told By An Idiot’? Told by a genius perhaps… You’ve got four weeks left so get down to the Royal Exchange and don’t miss the chance to board this Ghost Train!
Runs until 20th June. | Photo: Jonathan Keenan