This might be as spooky and enigmatic as our reviewing gets for this two-hander spine-tingling tale of The Wicked Lady currently starting its national tour at Nottingham Theatre Royal. For in the reviewing of this excellent and deliciously well-crafted piece of theatre by J W Theatres there is the chance of too many spoilers happening. The producers have asked the audience not to give the secrets away.
Suffice it to say that even the souvenir programme is inscribed in a ghostly scrawl, the like of which might appear on a cold and frosty window in the early hours and written by an invisible hand – She’s Waiting. The Wicked Lady is classic horror and guaranteed to have you on the edge of your seat or jumping off it into the lap of your neighbour! It could end up like a Mexican wave of frightened seat jumpers. If your heart doesn’t beat rapidly experiencing this show you are probably already dead.
Written and directed by James Williams, with set and lighting design by Alex Johnson and sound design (surely the spookiest ever!) by Dan Clarkson with original compositions by Tomas Wolstenhome, The Wicked Lady stars Nicki Davey as Alice Beaumont and Saul Bache as Sergeant Sean Fenton.
The play is set in Markyate in Hertfordshire and we get to learn of Lady Katherine Ferrers – The Wicked Lady – who legend tells us haunts the area, often appearing out of the mists on a ghostly horse, dressed as a highwayman, trampling across the fields accompanied by the smell of gunpowder and the sounds of screams. Then there is the chilling local saying ‘In the cell, there is a well. By the well, there be a tree. ‘Neath the tree the treasure be…’ You need to be a brave or foolhardy person to be out on any cold dark night in Markyate I can tell ye.
Bache and Davy are completely compelling in relaying the tale of this modern-day mystery in which a child has been abducted and Davy’s scepticism about the paranormal is tested to the limits. Their telling of this immersive horror story builds up the tension equally with silences in which you half expect something ghoulish to jump out and grab you by the throat. The writing also allows for episodes of humour to release the tension until the next big scare. Anyway, we have said enough. Be warned and don’t go into that dark room alone! I said “Don’t go into that dark… hello! hello!… what was that noise?”
The Wicked Lady runs at Nottingham Theatre Royal until 24th September.