The Enfield Haunting

"Whether you believe in ghosts or not, this spooky-tacular play serves thrills and chills in all the right places."

Showing in the heart of London, this production of The Enfield Haunting has been Directed by Angus Jackson and is currently haunting the Ambassadors Theatre until 2nd March. It’s a cosy, atmospheric theatre and what it lacks in leg room it certainly makes up for in charm.

The set is the inside of a dingy house with dark, dismal decor. The walls have been painted a musty greenish-grey and the rest of the interior is just as ominous with shabby lounge furniture, a plain dining table and a rickety staircase leading up to a second floor. Upstairs holds three beds where the entire family sleep, or more accurately, attempt to sleep. 

The amusing script, written by Paul Unwin, injected unexpected comedy into an otherwise eerie and intense drama. Unwin’s unique writing in this short one act play included unanticipated turns and twists, engrossing the audience and kept us curious till the end. We are taken back in time to the 70s where it is believed a family were being tortured by supernatural entity. 

Based on true events, this retelling is dramatised with inventive special effects and creative lighting, illuminating this interesting tale and highlighting that all important question… "are poltergeists real?". Darkness and shade are used creatively throughout and watching the audience around me react to the sudden surges of pure darkness engulfing the stage and auditorium between the strikes of light gave a fun, unpredictable energy that kept us on our toes. 

The loveable TV star Catherine Tate played the leading lady Peggy, a frightened, single mother of three, who (with the help of several other interesting characters) recounts the alleged paranormal activity within her working-class home in Enfield in 1977.

The haunting experienced includes the inexplicable movement of objects, electrical interference and most alarmingly the levitation and possession of Peggy’s middle child Janet. The exhausted family deal with the situation with help from friendly neighbour ‘Uncle Rey’, as well as paranormal investigators Mr Playfair (only spoken about during the show) and Mr Grosse who we later find out has his own personal motives for keeping watch over the family. 

Ella Schrey-Yeats played the demented Janet, a demanding role which she truly committed to. Her physicality was tremendous and the way she manipulated her body as being possessed was praise-worthy. 

Janet’s older sister Margaret was portrayed through Grace Malloy who brought an edgy dynamic to the show. Margaret had a mischievous, playful presence and her interpretation of the eldest daughter proved to be very convincing. Personally, I felt both these young ladies served us emotional maturity and conviction with their high standard performances. I loved watching the feisty and unapologetic boldness of Margaret contrast a sinisterly-sweet Janet. 

David Threlfall was cast as Maurice Grosse, a retired paranormal enthusiast and investigator. Mr Grosse is an interesting and somewhat unsettling character, one that the audience have trouble determining intentions for.

Other characters included in the story were youngest son Jimmy (Noah Leggott), Mrs Grosse’s wife Betty (Neve McIntosh), and formally mentioned neighbour Rey (Mo Sesay). 

There were a couple of moments which dipped in intensity and drama. I willed for slightly more vulnerability from the two lead characters and for a higher stakes energy. I feel this show, especially with the engaging script, has the ability to hit even deeper with the audience. 

The Enfield Haunting has such strong capability to be a knockout, the special FX were thrilling, however to achieve a full 5 stars I would need more authenticity and raw emotional connection throughout. 

Overall The Enfield Haunting received a positive audience reaction and holds the potential to have a successful run, especially if they delve deeper into the vulnerability of their characters. If you dare to catch this mysterious play, I would recommend viewing from the Circle as it was a clear view for both floors of the layered set. Unwin’s play provides a chilling night of escapism where you’ll leave questioning all you thought about the afterlife.

This show was reviewed on the 10th January 2024.  The Enfield Haunting runs at the Ambassadors Theatre, London until the 2nd March 2024.  Tickets available here: The Enfield Haunting | Catherine Tate and David Threlfall (enfieldhauntingplay.com)

Review written by Jasmine Alice

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Photo Credit: Marc Brenner

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