THEATRE REVIEW: New stars move forward as clocks go back after landmark production reveals scary new talent

GHOSTLY GREATS: The cast of Act II Theatre Company's Ghostly Tales at Ayscoughfee Hall Museum, Spalding. Photo supplied by Karl Gernert.

Ghostly Tales, Act II Theatre Company Drama Group, Ayscoughfee Hall Museum, Splading

Two and a half years ago, Act II Theatre Company staged one of its most ambitious productions when nearly 25 youngsters from its Drama group took on Charles Dickens’ epic novel, Great Expectations.

A review of the play said: “Great Expectations won’t affect Act II’s place as possibly the most innovative theatre group in South Holland.

“But it may be time to consider whether a small step backwards needs to be taken before attempting the literary might of Charles Dickens again.”

Well last Saturday night at Ayscoughfee Hall Museum, the dividends from that gamble in March 2015 were well and truly paid out as members of that same Drama group delivered some of the best acting seen since Act II staged Hamlet at the same venue, also in March 2015.

Act II Ghostly Tales were a series of six sinister stories acted out by a cast of more than 40 youngsters in three rooms at the musuem.

Three of the stories, “When Worlds Collide, Play With Me and The White Lady” were written by director and Act II co-founder himself, Karl Gernert.

The other three stories were classics, “The Haunted Dolls House” by M.R. James, “The Tapestried Chamber” by Sir Walter Scott, and “The Canterville Ghost” by Oscar Wilde.

Strange goings-on in old English buildings were in abundance, although the one personal reservation was with the depiction of seances, mediums and other forms of what has been called pagan rituals as entertainment.

In truth, there is nothing harmless, nor entertaining about the occult.

That said, Act II Ghostly Tales saw the emergence of a galaxy of worthy successors to the likes of James Girard, Jack Harrison, Natalie Pailing, Georgia Cantwell, Ben Norris, Jess Palmer, Seren Cave, Charlotte Charleston Stokes, Ashleigh Mills and Dominique Spinks, all of whom have delivered standout performances in the past.

Saturday night brought the coming of age for Scarlett Bergin, Cory Brook, India Brown, Lauren Harvey, Teo Kavvadias, Lauren Nox and Fin Smylie in Act II folklore.

As for Ellie Davies, who previously shone as Captain Hook in Act II’s Peter Pan in April, Jess Toomey and Joe Smith, both of them being true revelations in “The Canterville Ghost” and “The White Lade” respectively, plus Dominic Thorpe (Young Pip in Great Expectations), the world of acting is their oyster.

Review by Winston Brown

THEATRE REVIEW: Walking the plank with stage group’s emerging generation

THEATRE REVIEW - Great Expectations, Act II Theatre Company

Fine balance between test of acting and entertaining

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