Friday, 28 March 2014

'Haunting Julia'

Last night I saw an amateur production of this Alan Ayckbourn play at my local theatre (it's just up the road). It was a very enjoyable evening. I've always liked Ayckbourn's work, but this is the first time - to my knowledge, at least - that he's written a ghost story.

A bereaved father, an ex-boyfriend, and a self-styled psychic meet at a house where a teenager committed suicide twelve years before. The house is now a small museum dedicated to Julia, a musical prodigy who was composing from early childhood. But, as strange voices appear on tapes, and one half of the room becomes chillingly cold, can we be sure that Julia ever left?

Suffice to say that it works well, and makes for interesting comparisons with Conor McPherson's approach, especially 'Shining City' and 'The Weir'.



The play is very English in its central premise - not the ghost, but the idea that creativity is baffling and somewhat suspect to 'normal' people. Julie, the girl prodigy, never appears (to the audience, at least) but is perfectly depicted as child-like, lonely, acting like one possessed by rather than blessed with talent. Yes, there are some great moments of wit and the audience laughed, but it's also a moving study of how little we know others and how much we need from them. If you get the chance to see this play, in any kind of production, I'd recommend giving it a try. Here's another production video.

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