Theatre review: Kenilworth's Priory Theatre is back with a bang with this well-performed ghost story

Here is Charles Essex's review of the theatre's first performance after its enforced 18-month closure

The Mumpkins (Stuart Lawson and Karen Shayler) with Trent
The Mumpkins (Stuart Lawson and Karen Shayler) with Trent

The Grey Mist

Performed at The Priory Theatre, Monday 25 October 2021.

Review by Charles Essex

Narrator (Kevin Coughlan)

Local theatre has been in enforced hibernation for 18 months but The Priory were straight out of the starting blocks with cast and crew showing no rustiness or nerves after the imposed lay off. With the newly refurbished front-of-house, the audience were clearly delighted to be back at The Priory for this ghost story.

The single set – a 1920s country doctor’s surgery – and costumes were up to The Priory’s usual standard. The different scenes involved only minimal changes of minor props, with the impressive addition of sound tracks when the stage darkened for the changes. The experienced cast all delivered their lines well.

Dr Trent [Phil Spencer] was the new doctor in a rural practice, his predecessor having died suddenly after only a short time, who became progressively troubled by the recurring appearance of a mysterious young woman. The tentative romance with his secretary [Gill Halford] could not deflect him as he became increasingly obsessed about discovering the woman’s identity. He had a considerable amount of dialogue and conveyed well his growing anxiety as he was increasing affected by the grey mist.

The subtext was “It will end in tears”, as the locals tried to deflect him. Gerald Hudson was particularly impressive as Corby the curmudgeonly handyman and gardener, with some comic exchanges with Anita Dalton as Simpkin, the blustery housekeeper, who bustled about suppling endless cups of tea.

An interesting device was having a narrator [Kevin Coughlan] who conveyed an increasing sense of unease. It should have really enhanced the play but the script had too much tell-and-not-show dialogue with characters repeating what we already knew.

This was the first play by an experienced author, which he adapted from one of his stories. The Priory team did an excellent job with what was a pedestrian and ponderous script.

The show will run until October 31. To get tickets, visit: https://www.priorytheatre.co.uk/productions/202110-greymist