Ron Aldridge's Haunted plays in Wolverhampton this week in place of the originally scheduled Dry Rot. This production extends the summer play season into a fifth week with three of the four actors returning for a second time this season. It is the second Ron Aldridge play this year - the first being You're Only Young Twice. This play couldn't be any different.
Haunted quickly goes from being rather an erotic play to one that deeply explores the consciousness of the mind. It follows Paul Pengelly (Peter Amory) a double-murderer who has been found not guilty on both accounts. He's starting the life he always wanted but things soon take a sinister turn when his victims appear in his head and will not leave until he confesses to murder.
The two victims, Susan Pengelly (Joanne Heywood) and Richard Tremayne (Nick Ricketts) have a lot to do. Original tactics to edge Peter into confession is to repeatedly tease and taunt him. Not only is this annoying for Peter who is trying to get on with his life but also for the audience who are trying to watch. I couldn't help but feel Peter's agitation and annoyance, which (in a way) is the play working as it should. I could definitely sympathise with Peter, but he's a murderer - he deserves it!
Peter's new love Melanie is played by Nicola Weeks. Interestingly, Amory and Weeks were a couple (Susan and Ray) last week in The Final Test and are together again as Peter and Melanie this week. They work very well together and managed to switch from last week's couple to this week's very different pair.
Alan Miller Bunford's sets return again and this one, a charming lilac bedroom is lit cold and more harshly as the storyline gets grittier and more intense.
The programme features an article about various stage and film ghosts, one of which being Sam Wheat from Ghost. Ghost being a recent screen-to-stage adaptation features special effects and illusions to as part of a multi-million pound musical production in London. Surprisingly this smaller production also features illusions to enforce the ghost-like qualities of the actors who to look at are no different in appearance to the living characters.
You really have to concentrate in this one. There's a lot of supernatural explaining and understanding and at times switching between real-time action to reenactments of the past without obvious notice. Distraction techniques work well to showcase the illusions. The play runs at the Wolverhampton Grand Theatre until Saturday 28th July after finishing a small UK tour in May. This is your last chance to see it and is definitely worth considering.