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Harrogate Theatre’s Young Reviewers project: Edith in the Dark

The Harrogate Advertiser's Graham Chalmers with Harrogate Theatre's 'young reviewers', including Hannah Margerison, third from left.

The Harrogate Advertiser's Graham Chalmers with Harrogate Theatre's 'young reviewers', including Hannah Margerison, third from left.

Budding young reviewers in the district’s schools are being mentored by Harrogate Theatre and the Harrogate Advertiser in the theatre’s Young Reviewers scheme. Helmed by the theatre’s education workshop leader, Hannah Draper, their latest assigment - Edith in the Dark, produced a winning review from Hannah Margerison, 17, a student at Harrogate Grammar School. Here is her winning review. . .

Edith in the Dark, Harrogate Theatre

With Halloween long gone, the easily scared among us should be relieved that tales of ghosts and grisly happenings are safely out of the way for another year.

However, in the midst of Christmas festivities, Harrogate Theatre’s Edith in the Dark along to give us one final scare.

We meet three characters in pretty quick succession, all of whom have ended up in Edith’s study on Christmas Eve for one reason or another.

Housemaid Biddy Thricefold (Janet Amsden) and the enigmatic Mr Guasto (Scott Ellis) crave a reading of the author’s tales, but a reluctant Edith (Blue Merrick) offers them something slightly scarier than her pleasant stories of train-loving children.

The best moments are when the characters retell Nesbit’s tales, each taking on a role in the stories - with seasonally appropriate gender swapping, à la pantomime season.

This is definitely when the play is most animated and generally more interesting.

Nesbit’s original ghost stories are imaginative and captivating, if not wholly terrifying. If there’s anything negative to say about them it’s that we only get to hear a few.

The core characters are convincing, yet fall a bit flat compared to the energetic, caricature-like figures we meet in Nesbit’s stories.

Therefore it’s difficult to care what happens to them in comparison.

Ultimately, perhaps the weakest aspect of the play is that it’s meant to be somewhat scary. As far as terror goes, Edith in the Dark is fairly on the tame side.

The setting of the intimate studio theatre creates a creepy atmosphere and promises for an evening of substantial scares, but it doesn’t hold up for very long.

Despite this, it’s a clever production and provides a refreshing alternative to what this season typically has to offer.

 

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