The aesthetics chosen for this production have resulted in The Haunting of Blaine Manor being less theatrically rewarding and intense than horror should be.

Blaine ManorThe Haunting of Blaine Manor has been written and directed by Joe O’Byrne. It was presented at the Old Red Lion as part of a Halloween Tour after successfully premiering last year in Manchester.

O’Byrne developed the play in the Haunted House style of the Hollywood Golden Age of the 20th Century. Certainly the language, set and clothing are pertinent to that era.

A dedication to the period styling is also responsible for an over-abundance of words. Lengthy speeches give detailed descriptions of the history of horror as well as action from this particular narrative that is not dramatized. This necessitates a higher level of concentration from the audience than is often required – and it is tedious. Disturbingly in this case it means that nothing much happens in the first act of the play other than chat. No character is changed in any way from what occurs on stage.

Blaine ManorIt is not until the final ten minutes of the play that attention is caught and held. The ending of the play is excellent. Lighting, sound and the narrative finally coalesce into a satisfying conclusion and performances that have been tepid until this point become focused and real. More importantly something actually happens and someone is changed.

The adherence to the period style might also have adversely affected the performances of a cast who in the main appear to be very experienced and capable. However most of the characterizations come across as mediocre Am Dram with little depth. The exception to this generalization was a marvelous moment in the denouement when Peter Slater, as the main protagonist Roy, gave a nicely timed and exposed confession of his crime.

The aesthetics chosen for this production have resulted in The Haunting of Blaine Manor being less theatrically rewarding and intense than horror should be.

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The Haunting Of Blaine Manor
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Viola Patrick

Viola has been obsessed with all things theatre since she was young and first encountered the Les Miserables soundtrack. Totally hooked, Viola later studied Theatre at Reading University, where she was able to perform on stage, as well as writing and directing her own material. She has written theatre reviews for newspapers and magazines and is looking forward to joining the exciting world of LivetheatreUK.com and online reviewing.