With Halloween just around the corner, visiting a play that somehow involves ghosts in the classic mystery setting that is an old venerable mansion is more than appropriate to celebrate that time of the year when fake spider webs and pumpkin cupcakes are ubiquitous. And almost like Joss Whedon’s Cabin in the Woods, this new play written by Elliot Keren with a slightly clichéd title puts a humorous twist on the story reminiscent of the work of Edgar Allan Poe.
The plot follows the household of the elderly Lady Barucone (Kate Bennett) as they prepare for the arrival of her nephew Ruben (Harry Lee); upon arriving at the manor, Ruben is welcomed by the coquettish but rascally twins Felicity and Elissa (Emma Turnbull and Izzy Renton), who are on a quest to exasperate the unnerved housekeeper Mr Baxby (Alex Wood), as well as the house’s voice of reason, the butler, portrayed in a delightfully prim manner by Will Law.
Although the presence of several ghosts in the manor is established fairly early onwards by the cast’s almost nonchalant conversations with the invisible residents, they try to hide the haunted nature of the house from Ruben and merely resort to terrifying him with creepy stories about the ghastly incidents happening within the house. However, it isn’t long until wary Ruben finds out about the secrets of the slightly wacky elderly Lady.
Barucone Manor and its ghosts might not make you jump out of your seat like The Lady in Black due to the successful juxtaposition of mystery with comedic elements, but thanks to the well-timed performance of the cast and the clever stage lighting, the atmosphere was pleasantly eerie in certain scenes, with a blood-covered frying pan somewhat being the almost comical climax of the play.
Occasionally it seemed like Elliot Keren tried just a tad too hard to make the characters as cranky as possible; however, the undeniable chemistry between the actors and the nicely flowing dialogues compensated for any moments of awkward eccentricity.
The Ghosts of Barucone Manor will not exactly give you goosebumps (which it, admittedly, doesn’t intend to) if that’s what you’re looking for, but is a well produced and very enjoyable alternative to a night spent at home in your PJs eating Cadbury Screme Eggs and watching re-runs of The Walking Dead.
The Ghosts of Barucone Manor is playing till the 2nd Nov at the BT, tickets £5