Review: Inheritance at Victoria Hall Theatre in Old Harlow

Entertainment / Thu 25th May 2023 at 09:40am

ANY play that has a character called Mark Hollis and begins with the haunting notes from Talk Talk’s The Colour of Spring has grabbed this reviewers attention from the get-go.

This was a superb original play by local writer Andrew Pragnell, which we would highly recommend you seeing.

Part Wicker Man, part Waiting for Godot, part Brush Strokes, this haunting piece of “Folk Horror” built up layer upon layer of tension over the two hours.

It succeeded for a number of reasons. Firstly, it was superbly acted. Each actor was very comfortable in their own skins especially the two painters, Mark (Jim Thompson) and Nick (Kyle Jaggers). They both got the balance between comedy and horror right. They both commanded the stage and worked so well together.

The “banter” was very funny. In Kyle’s case, he was a very good swearer!

The plot was developed neatly. Not only with the introduction of Miss Littlefield (Katie Millner) who was a rural Frau Blucher but also the mad and menacing Lord du-Bois (Mark Ratcliffe). As the programme said the costumes were “actor’s own, it does make you curious as to what Mark’s wardrobe looks like!

We can’t praise the actors high enough. Yes they had a great script but they worked as an ensemble so well.

The build up of menace and horror was elevated by one scene. If there was a tremor in Old Harlow around 8pm this week, then it may well be down to that one particular scene.

There is most welcome use of music that punctuates the play. From Fleet Foxes to Nick Drake to the Britt Ekland dancing bit in the Wicker Man. The music allows the tension to build.

This all takes place in one room, so the work of the crew was so important here. Well done to all those behind the scenes especially, mask makers and lighting.

Any criticisms? We are probably in a minority but thought the two scenes in the second half between Miss Littlefield and Mark and then Lord Du-Bois and Mark could easily have been cut and not affected the narrative.

However, at the end this play got a rapturous round of applause. Sometimes applause is for being entertained (see Vicar of Dibley) but this applause was for an outstanding piece if theatre which drew every audience member in. We think they knew they were in the presence of a haunting pice of theatre that will live long in the memory.

We just hope we don’t have to wait another eight years for an Andrew Prangnell play!

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