Review: HATS produce a Five Star production that has the audience literally jumping out of their seats!
Entertainment / Fri 20th Oct 2023 at 09:34am
IF you wanted to gauge how scary a play was, then you should have seen the faces of the local school pupils who had come to see The Revival (Scared to Death) by HATS on Thursday night at the Harlow Playhouse.
A whole row hiding behind their jumpers, hoodies, the person sitting next to them. They were petrified and they loved it!
Their reaction was a testament to how good this play was and it was good on so many levels.
The cast of Lucian O’Keefe’s 1946 classic ghost play Scared to Death are gathered ready for their final dress rehearsal, but all is not going smoothly. Actors are bickering, one of them cannot learn their lines and the director is on the edge of a nervous breakdown and to top it all off, there are ghostly happenings encroaching into the real world
We don’t often begin by referring to the director but we want to start there. Sarah Randall (and her team) had constructed a claustrophic drawing room as the one set but had also choreographed the actors to use the whole of the theatre. Doing that, you felt involved in the play.
This was also such a good cast and such a good repertory company. You felt all the actors were on top of their game.
Nobody stole the show but all performed equitably and so ensured that this was a stand out performance.
As there was a play within a play element, you had to concentrate. The wonderful Reanna Austin is an English actress playing an American actress who is struggling with an English accent. Her enunciation is a mash up between Eliza Doolittle and Manuel from Fawlty Towers but is an illustration that this play mixes comedy with gothic halloween horror however, you can only do that if the actors are good enough.
At the beginning of the second half, Will Jansen and Jody Randall perform an extended part of the play. They were so good, you would have been happy watching the rest of the play. We also reflected that we don’t really see enough of Jody act but perhaps he is wearing so many other hats with HATS.
Linda Helm Manley is becoming the Maggie Smith of Harlow theatre as she tends to deliver killer withering lines and ends up (almost) stealing the show. We thought she was very Frau Blucher….Her timing is also exquisite.
There were also a number of really solid performances. That is not a “damning with faint praise” term but were really important anchors (Kevin Smith as Michael, Ella Brady as Alison and Zachary Smith as Clive.
Of course, we must mention Chris Millington as Giles Heath who produces a wonderful “I’m waring you part.
The direction came to the fore with all the elements that scared and startled the audience. This was especially true of the ending and the character whose name does not appear here. That climax must have taken a lot of work and again well done to all of those behind the scenes.
This was a triumph. HATS are trying to produce as many varied productions as possible. That has to be applauded. But it is clear, with the quality of actors available, that this repertory style of theatre is one of their true strengths.
In conclusion: A FIVE STAR production of The Revival. Go see but perhaps take a friend and a big jumper to hide behind!
Amazing acting by all members of the production. Sofi made my heart fall in to my stomach with her emotion must see this production with jump scares
Amazing acting by all members of the production. Sofi made my heart fall in to my stomach with her emotion must see this production with jump scares the accents were perfect and the director very anxious set just right a professional performance
This was truly amazing on all levels, incredible cast, edge of your seats fantastic storyline & perfect direction, twist at the end was an absolute bonus, can not fault it, well done HATS, you never fail to disappoint xxx