REVIEW: A HAUNTING (Kings Head Theatre) ★★★

imageA Haunting, written by Nathan Lucky Wood comes to The King’s Head Theatre as part of Festival 46, a celebration of new writing. The play is directed by Jennifer Davis as part of the King’s Head Theatre’s Trainee Resident Director Scheme for early-career directors.

A Haunting is a dark tale about the internet, anonymity, intrusion, desire and how we engage with the online world. “You should be careful, Mark. There are some really dangerous people out there.”

It’s Halloween, but Mark’s not going out. He’s home alone while his Mum is at work, in front of his computer, playing violent shooting games and talking to his friend Ghost. They’ve never met, Mark doesn’t know his real name and hasn’t seen his face but he likes the anonymity, it makes it easier to share secrets that way. This evening, things change, Ghost is really keen to meet face to face and he’s waiting in the woods behind the house.

James Thackeray plays Mark, the fifteen year old main character. He spends the first scene slumped in front of a glowing laptop screen talking to the unseen Ghost through a headset. Initially talking about the game they are playing on line, their conversation quickly moves into concerning territory as Ghost convinces Mark to come and meet him.

Beatrice Curnew plays Anna, Mark’s absent mother, caught up in her work. She calls Mark to find out if he’s going to be at home or not so she can bring home her latest conquest rather than to check if he’s OK.

Ghost is played by Jake Curran, initially the voice heard through Mark’s computer, later revealed in person as the play moves towards its climax.

The set is simple; lighting is used well to place the characters in their initially very separate worlds. The background music is deliberately chosen to make the audience feel uncomfortable as we watch this tale play out in front of us. It’s very clear very quickly that this is not going to end well.

The idea of how teenagers engage with the world online and the individuals who exploit them is an interesting and relevant issue. This play raises lots of challenging issues but in the short time does not address them all.

Reviewed by Rhiannon Evans