The Ghosts of Halfway House

Date 20th October 2023
Society Compton Players
Venue Compton Village Hall
Type of Production Play
Director Helen Saxton

Report

Author: Chris Horton

The Ghosts of Halfway House by Richard James is a ghost story that is more intriguing than scary.  The play begins when a young married couple and mother (of the husband) are shown around a house they need to rent. The ‘estate agent’ is evasive when asked questions such as: how long have you been an estate agent? How did you make tea when there’s no kettle in the kitchen?  Where does that door lead?  Why doesn’t it open?  And why isn’t it on the plans?  

The set, described as a dilapidated living room of a detached Victoria House gave a good impression of the era and although unloved, it didn’t appear to be dilapidated.  The only inclination of this was a slightly crooked curtain rail. I loved the decorative glass panel above the front door. The set dressings were all appropriate and in keeping with the story. The props were well sourced and used by the cast including faded newspapers, older style phone and doctor’s bag.    

The costumes were good and neutral enough for us not to know when the play was set. There was great attention to detail. 

The lighting was effective throughout and well controlled. There was good use of the blue flashing light to indicating a passing emergency vehicle. Special effects were excellent; the ghostly face at the window and pictures apparently falling off the walls.

 Helen Saxton’s skilful direction brought out fully rounded characters as the story was told. Pete Watt as Mr Godley, gave an assured performance and was just right as the estate agent with a secret.    Mary Warrington as the mother in law from hell, Nora, had some great comic moments and sharp wit while sparring with nervy Daphne. Jasmine Mullany as Daphne brought out her character’s flaws with her gestures and Phil Prior as the son/husband, Simon, had just the right amount of empathy and understanding to keep the peace.  Completing the cast Teagan O’Brien and George Buckland, appeared briefly as a young couple seeking to rent the house. All the questions were answered in the denouement which brought to an end an evening of suspenseful entertainment.