The Haunted Through Lounge and Recessed Dining Nook at Farndale Castle

Date 21st May 2016
Society Woodland Players
Venue Our Lady of Lourdes School Hall
Type of Production Farndale comedy
Director Sharon Wood
Musical Director -
Choreographer -

Report

Author: Dee Way

This production is a play within a play, showing both the Guild members and their ‘play’ characters. As such, there needs to be great clarity as to which persona is being portrayed at any one time which can be rather tricky to do. It must have also been great fun to rehearse.

The direction was good, with good planning of the chaos that ensues and good casting of the characters. The staging was well managed, with the scenes changing at odd times, the hanging of the black covers, and the sound effects drowning out the lines at times. It is always amazing how hard it is to organise chaos! The opening scene adjustment (vase of flowers) was a little hard to see due to the low level lighting, so the audience were not sure if this should be seen or not. Perhaps a clearer start would have helped?

It was an evening of enormous fun, though. The playing of a cardboard piano that was upside down was hilarious and the collapsible bed was great. However, I did feel that the script was played for laughs in places and tended towards farce at times, rather than being Farndale’s futile attempt at presenting a serious murder play. This is where the contrasts between characters in the murder play became so important, to present an attempt at serious drama by the Farndale members. 

The set was versatile with the main features as required: the moveable book shelves, the fireplace and window, the cellar/balcony door, the grandfather clock, tables and chairs.  The car in the opening was lovely – nicely amateurish! The bookcase that seemed to get stuck at the crucial moment was also very funny, as was the collaspe of the door and frame. The programme containing the Guild’s newsletter was a lovely touch!  Costumes were lovely, with Mrs Reece looking like the Virgin Mary as the nun, the maid in a black dress, relishing the lines of doom, and the sporty look for Austrian Lottie Grosskopf. I liked the ruffled look for Mrs Slaughter, on her one appearance.

The lighting and sound were well used to make the chaos even more striking. The lighting before the performance showed what good effects were available as the audience entered to sit at tables in the hall. There were subtle motorised gobos of ghosts and skulls on the ceiling, all very well managed, which highlighted the fact that the later lights at wrong times were part of the plot. The loud sound effects added to the mayhem on stage to good effect. The idea of playing the music from ‘Ghostbusters’ was inspired!

This was a thoroughly enjoyable evening of entertainment that had us laughing most of the way home. It is a gift to amateur drama that these plays include so much that is indicative of village drama group attempts at productions. Perhaps we are laughing at ourselves here, and the mistakes that many of us will have encountered in Amdram.  Whatever the reason, let us keep Farndale alive – they are wonderful insights into the chaos that we all enjoy so much!