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Theatre Makers in Halloween fundraising performance

The Theatre Makers have put on a Halloween fundraiser in aid of Cancer Relief.

‘Tales to Tell at Midnight’ played for two nights at the Ince Hall last week and I attended the second night (Thursday), hoping to be entertained and fully knowing that I would be as I knew that I was in good hands.

The colourful printed programme was inviting and full of promise and the cast of eight experienced actors under the direction of Andrew Dark were to excel at the art of storytelling from a selection of six horror tales told in a library setting, ‘Mark of the Beast’ by Rudyard Kipling, The Canterville Ghost by Oscar Wilde, ‘The Cask of Amontadillo’ by Edgar Allen Poe, ‘What a Thought’ and ‘The Possibility of Evil’ by Shirley Jackson and ‘From Beyond’ by H.P Lovecraft.

The stage was set for the business of reading from four lecterns behind which were eight seats (four per side) for the actors and there was a big rear screen for the ghoulish projections that would punctuate the narratives, with added sound effects of course. A technical challenge indeed.

The programme format was based in the style of a 1940s Radio show when audiences were invited to attend live broadcasts and horror was a popular genre. The narratives and role playing were in the expert hands of Kaigan Garcia, Harry Kumar, Karen Lawson, Anthony Loddo, Chloe Loddo, Tony Loddo, RoseAnne Victor and Jackie Villa, all the above-mentioned fusing together into a slick production which merits mention for a number of outstanding things which we might take for granted in any production, but were crucial to this one.

There were many visual, sound and reading cues, all waiting to be missed OR to be taken with surgical skill by the actors and the technical crew. All were taken on time and none were missed.

The many smooth transitions by the actors to their lecterns and back were all silent, precise, dignified and in character.

Those who were not reading from lecterns were sat perfectly still and not once distracted from the unfolding stories or audience reactions.

The audience were spellbound by the tales and the way the narratives and the role playing by the actors were woven into the story telling.

There were children in the audience and there wasn’t a squeak out of them - credit to them and to the spell cast by the six spooky stories well told.

The production was a lesson in stagecraft and a well-placed screen at rear centre stage allowed backdrop pictures to set the sombre and ghoulish mood that visually helped the tales along. Nothing and no one got in the way of anything for ninety minutes until we were all invited to scream to release tension at the very end.

I, for one, am in awe of what we saw and enjoyed and as ever can’t wait for January 25 to arrive when the panto of ‘Beauty and the Beast’ by Theatre Makers takes to the stage.

Well done all and congratulations on scaring the wits out of us while showing us how it has to be done properly to be effective and enjoyably scary too.

The full proceeds from this production are destined for Cancer Relief.

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