Report by: Peter Parlour on Friday 25 March 2016 Venue: Georgian Theatre Royal, Richmond Director: Gregan Davis
Conor McPherson premiered this play in 2011 at the National Theatre London and at that time the Times described his play as “A cracking fireside tale of haunting and decay”.
The society did a very good job and kept the audience on the edge of their seats. Set in 1822 this was McPherson’s first foray into period drama - set around a haunted house in an Ireland troubled by colonial history, developing into a story of the search for love.
Lady Madeleine Lambroke, a widowed landowner, was very well played by newcomer Helena Langford. Lady Lambroke's daughter Hannah (well played by Tabby Milton), is engaged to a gentleman in England and at the arrival of Madeleine’s' cousin, Rev. Berkeley, a defrocked Anglican vicar (excellently played by Bruce Cunningham) and his companion, philosopher Charles Audelle (excellently played by Warnock Kerr), they discover that a murder was committed in the main room, leaving a ghostly impression on the household.
This story is told by the housekeeper Mrs Goulding (well played by Barbara Hughes). The relationship between Hannah and her mother was very dramatic leading to constant heated exchanges. One of the players 'Grandie' (Maria Lambroke), (Madeleine’s Grandmother) played by Jackie McLeod, only had a few lines to say although was never off the stage.
The estate manager Mr Fingal didn’t help matters between the love tangles of Hannah and her mother, he was played by another newcomer, Martin McFadden, who gave us a very powerful performance, he will be a great asset to the society. Another newcomer was Alison Williams who played the housemaid Clare Wallace very well indeed, and during the heated exchanges she sang a song very tunefully. She was kept busy providing Audelle and the Vicar with whisky.
The audience almost leapt from their seats as Berkeley was having a séance and there was a mighty bang associated with the ghost. A little later Audelle saw a vision of Alice, the little girl that was murdered. Alice, played by Eleanor Harland (alternating with Jaime-Anais Gilpin), just drifted in and out of the set.
Rev. Berkeley decided to hold a séance to clear the air and Mr Fingal couldn’t come to terms with it. In the end Hannah left for England and Fingal and Clare got together. Audelle shot himself much to the horror of the Vicar.
A very wordy play indeed which must have been a challenge for the Director. Mention must be made of the music, it really gave you the dramatic feeling.
It really was a ghostly night but was very well performed by the Society. With excellent costumes and make up and a very interesting set it was a good night's entertainment.
May 1822 - rural Ireland. The defrocked Reverend Berkeley arrives at the crumbling former glory of Mount Prospect House to accompany seventeen year-old Hannah to England. She is to be married off to a Marquis in order to resolve the debts of her mother's estate. However, compelled by the strange voices that haunt his beautiful young charge and a fascination with thepsychic current that pervades the house, Berkeley proposes a séance, the consequences of which are catastrophic.
Set around a haunted house hemmed in by a restive, starving populace, The Veil weaves Ireland's troubled colonial history into a transfixing story about the search for love, the transcendental and the circularity of time.