A down-to-earth confrontation between a worried foreman concerned about hefty job losses and wealthy Yorkshire pit owner Harold Pritchard who is determined to close the local mine evolves into a more domestic melodrama of unexplained happenings and ghostly interventions in Alexi Kaye Campbell’s slightly spooky new play, a co-production between Shared Experience and the Tricycle theatre.
For a decade, the tragic loss of their then twelve year old son Edgar, who died stranded down a disused mineshaft, has blighted the Pritchard household.
Now, in 1937, idealistic and somewhat effete young Terence with his confrontational views has arrived with his mother and father to revisit the oppressive house where the parents of his childhood best friend, soul mate – and (had he survived) potentially more – still live in unhappy gloom.
Almost immediately he seems to be being taken over by a strange force which Helen Schlesinger’s unremittingly grief-stricken Elizabeth is convinced is her own dead son trying to communicate with her.
Daniel Flynn’s unbending industrialist determined to find a rational explanation, Joseph Timms convulsing convincingly before the eyes of Sarah Woodward’s no-nonsense, fiercely protective Vanessa and Simon Shepherd’s indulgent, none-too-bright Geoffrey Edward (his concerned parents) all give good performances in Polly Teale’s austere production.
But much as I’m a fan of the previous work of both company and playwright, on this occasion Campbell’s plotting and social concerns put me in mind of too many other more satisfying plays – from Ibsen’s A Doll’s House to J.B. Priestley’s An Inspector Calls – to make this foray into the supernatural and psychological more than passingly entertaining.
Tricycle, Kilburn High Road, NW6 7JR
Tube | Kilburn
Until 20th July
£14.00 – £28.00
Photo: Tristram Kenton