GHOSTS Review: The Harlow Star
Weeks before Christmas festivities begin Harlow Theatre Company served a winter chill in the form of Ghosts.
Henrik Ibsen's 1881 work was thrillingly re-enacted at The Victoria Hall Theatre in Old Harlow giving audiences a taste of a real Nordic noir.
Brenda Jones directed the proceedings which saw Jane Miles, often a HTC director herself, nail the protagonist role of disturbed widow Helene Alving.
The plot picks up after the death of her wealthy but menacing husband Captain Alving and is set entirely in their home.
Only son Oswald Alving, the pious Pastor Manders, carpenter Jacob and maid Regina all enter with piles of emotional baggage to create a melting-pot of upper class hell.
The play's greatest achievement is creating a gripping spectacle using flawed, and often unlikeable, characters. The grim tone rarely lifts bar the odd moment of black comedy to build to a climax where Helene and Oswald, who is well played by Mitch Rous, must confront past and present horrors.
With content that challenges the church and discusses incest, Ghosts was widely controversial on release and not performed in Ibsen's native Norway until much later.
But one is grateful the play survived the criticism and is now widely heralded as a classic. Perhaps HTC members felt a need to get some darkness out of their systems before pantomime season, but Ghosts was a well-performed, gripping and accomplished work.
Jacob Engstrand, a carpenter. Paul Stephenson
Regina Engstrand, Mrs. Alving’s maid. Alex Appleton
Pastor Manders, a priest. Kevin Smith
Mrs. Helene Alving, a widow. Jane Miles
Oswald Alving, Mrs. Alving’s son. Mitch Rous
Director Brenda Jones
Set design Brett Stevens
Set construction Steve Dove, Barry Bowen,
Sara Green and Leo Appleton
Costume design and wardrobe Joce Johnson
Lighting design Andy Pegrum
Lighting assistant Sam Pegrum
Lighting operator Helga Kilroy
Sound design Tony Saxby
Sound operator Sam Stevens
Properties Alyssa Upton
and Barry Bowen
Production Manager Barry Bowen
Production assistance and continuity Alan Jones
Stage Manager Helga Kilroy
Assistant Stage Manager Sam Stevens
Publicity design and photography Paul Johnson
Marketing Jody Randall
Front of house services Members of the company
The assistance of Linda Clark-French, our sponsors, the Victoria Hall Theatre team and all those who contributed to bringing this production to the stage is gratefully acknowledged.