Haunting tale makes for a seriously creepy evening

Preview by Katherine Kaminsky

THE Haunters is a gothic horror story, which provides an eerie evening at Wimbledon Studio. Loosely based on a book by Edward Bulwer Lytton, a 19th Century British novelist and poet, Lytton is best known for the quote 'It was a dark and stormy night...', which aptly sets the tone for the evening.

Dr. Williams (Pat Abernethy) returns to London on discovering his brother, Robert, has died unexpectedly. Met by solicitor, Mr Bowers (Dave Marsden), Williams is told of the unfortunate circumstances of Robert's death - he slit his own throat on the doorstep of his house in East London.

Williams has difficulty accepting this, as it is totally out of character for his brother to commit suicide, and so decides to investigate.

Bowers takes him to visit Robert's grave and then on to the house still containing his brother's belongings, which Williams will have to clear. At both locations, Williams is convinced he has seen a manifestation and heard a woman crying but, being a doctor, assumes there to be a scientific explanation.

In true horror style he dismisses the idea that the house is haunted and spends the night there alone, determined to discover what happened to make his brother run from the house, believing death to be his only option.

He soon learns about past occupants, who once resided there, or are they present? Ill with consumption, will Dr Williams remain healthy enough to discover the cause of his brother's death?

The two actors, Pat Abernethy and Dave Marsden, are ideal as the Victorian doctor and solicitor and together with director, Jim Dunk, create just the right amount of tension and eerie atmosphere in this supernatural tale.

Abernethy drives the play, spending much time effectively in one spotlight, describing his descent into terror. Still, there is not enough contrast between the character at the beginning and the end of the play, as we follow his journey. Marsden, however, contributes skilfully to the story and even provides a few lighter moments with Bowers' fondness for brandy.

The appearance of the ghost could, in that space, be more remarkable. At one spine-chilling moment, the ghost appears wearing a Halloween mask from a newsagent's, making you want to laugh rather than scream. However, this does not detract from an extremely creepy ending.

If you like ghost stories, haunted houses and hansom cabs dashing across London, dash to this, for it finishes on Saturday.

The Haunters by Patrick Prior, Directed by Jim Dunk WITH: Pat Abernethy and Dave Marsden. Presented by The Wimbledon Studio Theatre at The Studio Theatre, The Broadway, Wimbledon, London SW19, from Wednesday, January 15 to Saturday, January 18 at 7.30pm. Tickets: 020 8540 0362.
N.B. Student Rush tickets cost £5 and can be purchased one hour before the show by students on Tuesday to Thursday performances only, subject to availability.

RELATED LINKS: Click here for the Wimbledon Studio Theatre website...