Following the death of their father, siblings Jack, Connor, and Sarah, come together to discuss how to move forward with the failing pub he owned. Realising they need a USP, they decide to embrace the ghostly rumours that surround the village and claim their status as the spookiest pub in Britain! But is the creepy painting on the wall having more of an impact than they’d like to believe?
All performances in this piece are generally strong but do tend towards needlessly clownish for such a small space. Gabriel Fogarty-Graveson has a clear knack for dry comedy, seen at its best earlier in the play; Cara Steele was born to play a pantomime arch-villain and is naturally captivating, though perhaps the intimacy of the space does the scale of her performance a disservice here, and we long for a little more nuance in Sarah’s characterisation; and, while only a cameo character, Felix Grainger’s portrayal of Dr Geoffrey Host is excellent, and a highlight of the show. The energy of all three is brilliant, but more finesse is needed when it comes to overall execution.
The script (written by Grainger and Fogarty-Graveson) has occasional moments of wit and hilarity, but too often its voice is confused – it is never quite clear who the target audience is, jokes are over-indulged or over-explained, and the narrative itself is messy. The delivery, too, feels rushed; for both an enhanced spooky and comic experience, more pauses are absolutely essential. While it’s clear the intention of the piece is to build to a chaotic and ridiculous climactic end, we get lost along the way.
The set is simple but fantastic, instantly evoking that quintessential British pub feel that is central to the piece. Lighting is used brilliantly to create spooky effects and haunting spotlights, though the sound often feels unnecessarily or ineffectively used.
Though it certainly needs more “quoi”, if you’re looking to kick-start your spooky season with some theatre, perhaps this will do it!
The Nag’s Head runs at Park Theatre until 28th October.
Review: Penny Lane Photo: Alice Chambers