Review: The Haunting

Date published: 11 February 2019

The Curtain Theatre has been going for the past 90 years. Even Hitler was unable to dim the spirit of the players who continue to put on theatrical performances every few weeks for a dedicated audience. 1200 people are on their mailing list.  And as they do 10 shows for each play many people come to see a cast drawn from 30 volunteers actors regularly. With the latest play, The Haunting you can see why.

 Adapted from short stories by Charles Dickens the two and half hander 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. And 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. And the 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.

Steve Griffiths


The Haunting continues until Saturday 17 February.
Visit the Curtain Theatre web site for tickets or ring 01706 642008.

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