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Live / stage review

The signalman and other ghost stories / daniel evans

by Now Then Sheffield

8th Nov. lantern theatre.
reviewer - sara Hill.


It was a wet and windy night, but that was a perfect backdrop to a performance of ghost stories at the Lantern Theatre. Enter Montagu Furzan, psychic investigator, who guided us through four supernatural tales: The Listeners (Walter de la Mare), The Rose Garden (M.R. James), The Black Cat (Edgar Allen Poe) and The Signalman by Charles Dickens.

The adaptations were written by Simon Corble who, along with Paul Sullivan, also performed them. In first half the pair took turns to monologue,each commanding the stage for half an hour alone and creating a palpable atmosphere of tension. The slowly escalating unease of The Rose Garden sent shivers down the spine and the descent into murderous madness of the condemned man in The Black Cat had us all on the edges of our seats.

The second half belonged to The Signalman, with Sullivan taking the titular role. His portrayal of the lonely signalman haunted by portents of danger and the spectre of his own death was beautifully restrained. Restless anxiety and mental anguish flowed from his hunched shoulders and furrowed brow.

The Victorian splendour of the Lantern Theatre was most fitting and Found Theatre's production was very much at home in it. These were not Hollywood yarns of shocks and gore, just classically told tales of creeping and titillating dread.

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Daniel Evans took on the role of Sheffield Theatres Artistic Director in June 2009 after the reopening of the newly-designed Crucible. With more experience under his belt and big plans for 2011, we spoke to Daniel about the future of the theatres.


What were your intentions for the theatres when taking on the role of Artistic Director?

I wanted to consolidate and build upon the excellent work of my predecessors, particularly Michael Grandage and Samuel West, by producing a whole range of plays in exciting, challenging, enriching ways. I also wanted to open the building up and encourage the people who live and work in the region to feel like the theatre was theirs, that somehow they owned it.

How do you think your background in acting affected how you approached the role?

Being an actor comes in useful in all kinds of ways. The principles of the rehearsal room are applicable in the office, at board meetings, post-show discussions. They all require good listening, a degree of empathy and persuasion.

What has the reception been like to the new Crucible?

Absolutely wonderful. The building is still getting fantastic reviews from all kinds of people, but mostly audiences. This is gratifying, as most of the redevelopment money was spent on improving the audience's experience. Tell us about your performance in Sondheim's 'Company' next year. It's not made yet, so I can't tell you about the production, but I can say that I feel extremely excited by it. It has one of Sondheim's most dynamic scores. The story is also intriguing because of its exploration of love and marriage in all its facets, the ups and the downs. I've wanted to play the part of Bobby for a long time, so I can't wait.

What else can our readers look forward to at the theatres this Christmas and in 2011?

Our Christmas musical, Me and My Girl, will explode onto the Crucible Stage at the beginning of December and it promises to be an exhilarating night out. In January, Sheffield Theatres embarks on one of our most ambitious projects to date: the David Hare season. We're dedicating all three of our spaces to the work of one of the most significant figures in modern, postwar British drama. I'm directing David's thrilling exploration of the Church of England, Racing Demon, while Thea Sharrock will give us an up-close-and personal production of Plenty and theatre legend Peter Gill is returning to Sheffield to direct The Breath of Life, an intriguing play about two women who once shared a man. And that's just the start of the year!

Photo by Craig Fleming.

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by Now Then Sheffield

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