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Spring 2019Theatre Review: The Haunting

Directed by Jane Tonge

The Curtain Theatre has been going for the past 90 years - even Hitler was unable to dim the spirit of the players - and continues to put on theatrical performances every few weeks for a dedicated audience.

1,200 people are on their mailing list, and as the theatre does 10 shows for each play, many people get to see a show. The producions are cast from a core of 30 volunteers plus people from local surrounding areas.

With the latest play, The Haunting, you can see why. Adapted from short stories by Charles Dickens the play allows the amateur actors to show their worth.

Josh Potts, as a young man coming to a bleak manor house in Yorkshire to value a dead man’s library, is particularly good. How someone who does a serious job, as a teacher I was told, has the mental ability to learn two hours’ worth of lines and also act well is nothing short of miraculous.

The other major actor is also the overall director and he had a cold to cope with. Amazing.

Normally, any reference to the stage setting means that the play was limited. Not in this case. The set, again produced by amateurs, could have graced any commercial theatre. It felt cold, as all old Yorkshire manors should, and when the special effects produced a ghostly presence, I felt a frisson go up my spine.

In the front of house, the volunteers provide a warmth and professionalism that many theatres could learn from.

Director of the play, Jane Tonge, should be proud of the performances she brought from her two main actors.

The additional ‘half actor’? A ghostly presence brought thrillingly to life for a brief but startling moment.

In the unlikely setting of the curry capital of Rochdale, the Curtain Theatre is a beacon of voluntary effort and magic.

Forthcoming productions include:

Di and Viv and Rose
April 2019

June 2019

Review by Steve Griffiths