The Ghost of Blackstoke Manor

The Ghost of Blackstoke Manor
The Masque Players
West Wycombe Village Hall
28th March 2014

INTRODUCTION

We were given a warm welcome by Lynn Rockell and members of the Front of House team one of whom kindly showed us to our seats and thank you for always giving us such excellent seats. I was also able to speak to the Author of the play which was a real pleasure. This is her third play and if it is as good as the one we saw it will prove what an excellent writer she is. It was also good to get her input as she has directed this play with her own group for its first outing.  This was a move away from the usual plays the group present and was quite a success.

THE PROGRAMME

Stephen Rockell was in charge of publicity but there was not mention of who designed the superb cover and also the tickets. The programme was printed on high quality paper with messages from the  Director  Sheelagh Jones and Chairman Victoria Gomm. An interesting piece about ghosts, which gave food for thought and of course a list of cast and crew.  I would, have liked to see a photo of each of the cast members together with a short piece about their achievements but this time it was lacking.  However it was a programme of which the group should be justly proud.

THE SET

Designed and constructed by 8 members of the group and it was excellent. The furniture was well chosen and the picture over the fireplace was impressive. However I felt that there was no view of any kind through the window or the door at the back when it was opened.  A black backdrop can be effective and perhaps this was a cost cutting exercise but some sort of scene would have added greatly to the overall effect.

COSTUMES

Provided by the Masque Team they were in he main wearing ordinary clothes although Fiona was dressed in a hippy fashion and Ebeneezer the ghost was very well attired and even with a very small part looked impressive.

LIGHTING AND SOUND

Lighting and Sound Manager was Jonathan Bush with his crew of Freya Elliot and Lucy Churches. The sound and effects were brilliant so much so that on more than one occasion the audience almost jumped out of their skins (I know I did).However I felt the lighting was occasionally lacking.  When the cast first entered the house, which was an old and abandoned dwelling the light was too bright which continued throughout most of the first half but dimmed to great effect in the second half. As mentioned earlier the window and door were both opening onto complete darkness.  If there had been some light through the window and also the door when opened the mention of it soon getting dark as the light faded would have been more effective I would also like to have seen the light flicker when the thunder crashed apart from that it was excellent and As this is to my knowledge the first ghost story the Players have staged they are to be commended on their superb presentation.

THE CAST

Justin Clinch took on the role of Will Lloyd with ease.  It is good to see that he is just as able to portray serious roles as well as his usual accomplished comedy and he still had that amusing glint in his eye, his performance was engaging throughout.

Willow Joy as his wife Tina  was impressive. She brought a calm presence to the role and her performance throughout was completely believable.

Max Sasim was credible as the rather bolshy and disbelieving Tom who ridiculed his wife’s ideals but changed his persona as the action continued.

Mandi McDermot was well cast as the rather impressionable and at times hysterical wife of Tom.

James Moorcroft was fantastic as Nick the sinister stranger with his superbly deep voice he made a remarkable character and was able to portray his role as the unhelpful neighbour but turned out to be the actor involved in the subterfuge.

A special mention must go to the unnamed actor who played Ebenezer, only a small role but absolutely vital to the spooky ending.

IN CONCLUSION

In the first half there were some problems with blocking which should have been avoided as the cast was small Although pauses can add to the tension there were too many in the first half and tighter direction would have improved this. However, this was one of the best  productions along with Still Life performed some time ago but still memorable. The Masque Players are to be congratulated on tackling this play which was very well written and a change from their usual productions.  A great evening of entertainment which judging by the audience reaction was a success.