The Haunting of Hill House

Date 12th April 2024
Society Chesil Theatre (Winchester Dramatic Society)
Venue Chesil Theatre, Winchester
Type of Production Play
Director Jim Glaister
Musical Director None
Producer Alec Walters
Written By Shirley Jackson


Author: Mark Allen

Arriving at the theatre I was cordially greeted by Dave Collis and the front of house team and introduced to Jim Glaister, the director. I duly took my seat and settled down to see the Haunting of hill house. Chesil Theatre, in Winchester is a small 11th Century converted church that holds a full house (as it always seems to be) of seventy enthralled audience members. The stage space is, as suggested, quite small, but the design team, this time led by David James as designer, never ceases to amaze me with what they can do with it. The Haunting of Hill House was no exception. It's the interior a front room of an old large "Edwardian" style house with connecting doors to off stage both Stage Right, Stage Left and Stage rear combined with a raised platformed bedroom to the back stage left. The panels were old dark oak panelling with a dark burgandy wall covering to add to the sinister nature of the play. 

The story is a psychological drama within this haunted house and the guests who have met there, to be with the protagonist, Dr Montague, Matthew Elison, to see what the ghostly stories are all about and how it unfolds. Act One got underway and we were introduced to the two female leads Eleanor, played by Amelie Drew, Theodora, played by Charlote Richfield - Betteridge and the eponymous Mrs Dudley, Helen Bilault (who stepped in at the last minute due to a drop out, but you'd never have known) All were then joined by Tom Dangerfield as Luke Sanderson, let the story unfold. 

The show had been obviously well rehearsed and the movements, fitted in well and were confident and kept the show moving at a reasonable pace. This was aided by superb diction from all, no nervousness, and any dropped lines were certainly not noticed. A testament here to the direction of Jim Glaister and the work he has put in with the cast. We were able to follow the storyline without any difficulty. Act two saw the introduction of a snobbish, entitled, clairvoyant Mrs Motague (wife of the Dr) and her ever beleagured driver Arther Parker, played by Marcus Whitfield. Both added a different dimension to the piece and certainly a little light relief.

The whole show was throughout completely enhanced by some inventive and subtle lighting along with a myriad of brilliant and effective sound effects, used at just the right time to really build the ghostly suspense... and we as an audience were kept captivated throughout.

The Staging, location, lighting, sound and great performances from all really made this a very, very good show and one that Chesil should be proud of. The standard from Chesil Theatre is always at a very high level, the bar is set, it never fails. Bravo.