Reviewed by Louise Watts
H.G Wells wrote the story “The Red Room” in 1894. It is a short story based on a supposedly haunted castle. The production of “The Red Room” is based on this story but adapted to fit the play and has an unexpected twist at the end.
It focuses on a mother whose daughter is not around anymore and quickly draws all mothers whose children have left home into her world. The sadness that you do not know what they are doing, what they have had for tea, where they are and so on pulls on all our heart strings. She has devised a bucket list of things to do before she gets too old and at number 10 on the list is to stay in a haunted house. So here she is in the castle with a reputation for being haunted. A bride died on her wedding day and was not found for several years and when she eventually was found, she was still in her wedding dress.
She is recording the whole experience as if she is talking to her daughter throughout about what is happening and how scared she is. There are several spooky noises in the cold, dark red room and she is reliant on candles to keep her fear at bay. It works for a period of time until they start going out one by one… what will happen? Is the castle haunted? Where is her daughter? Will she survive her night in the haunted red room? Obviously, I am not going to answer any of those questions as that would ruin the whole story for anyone who is interested in going to see it.
What I will say is that the story is captivating, the one sole actress is amazing and completely believable. She has my full admiration for managing to keep the whole audience engaged solely by herself. The set was one room throughout and simple but perfect for the story being told. The use of modern technology in this 1894 story is comical and there are several jokes which we can all relate to during the evening.
The play was carried out in the Studio at The Hawth theatre which is a lovely intimate venue holding around 100 people. The perfect location for a short spooky story. The running time is 1 hour 35 minutes with a short interval which was the right time to tell the story without dragging it out unnecessarily and potentially losing the audience’s attention. My only criticism was that it could be made a little scarier in places to add effect. The scope is there to escalate the fear factor and I think that would make it even better.
I would recommend this play to anyone who enjoys sitting on the edge of their seat and trying to predict what is going to happen next. If this is you then you will not be disappointed.
The Rumpus Theatre Company is curently on tour with The Red Room, for more information and tour dates visit www.rumpustheatrecompany.co.uk.
For other shows at The Hawth in Crawley visit hawth.co.uk or call the box office on 01293 553636.
The Hawth, Hawth Avenue, Crawley, Sussex, RH10 6YZ | 01293 553636