Review by Agnes T Cockburn
ARNOLD Ridley is probably best known for his long running performance as Private Godfrey in Dads Army. He was also a well established playwright and fairly prolific long before he came to our screens.
He once spent the night at a railway station after missing his connection which gave him the idea to pen The Ghost Train in 1927.
For this latest Courts Production director Martyn Williams has assembled a splendid cast which includes some debutantes on the Thameside stage and a fabulous job they have made of it. To grab a audiences attention from the start is crucial and this opening is wonderful . Clever use by Gary Patmore of sound and perfect lighting set the scene for this ghostly tale.
Its extremely difficult to pick out any outstanding performances because they were all of the highest standing. As each character entered we knew exactly who they were and their bearing in life.
Luke Coldham could have been born in the 1910’s as his accent was spot on for the period and his delivery bounced beautifully between his wife (the never disappointing )Louise Alsop and newcomer Sean Hynes who commanded the stage not only with his presence but his manner.
Dave Carey (probably one of Thurrocks best character actors) was magnificent as he portrayed the station master spitting out his baints and “not ere zirs” . I must also mention debutante Josh Handley making his first drama role on the Thurrock Stage. Think Jim Carrey and Jim Dale combined and you are somewhere there. His performance as the idiot Teddy Deakin delighted all and his every move sucked up by an eager audience who gasped when he changed character(plot spoiler).
Victoria Grayling continues to impress with characterisations and her performance as the disturbed Julia was one of her finest to date. Strong support from Anna Catch pole and Jayne Jones although the latter manages to sleep uncomfortably for the majority of the play. I think this was also Colin Gibbons best role and it looks like he has been doing his homework as this was an accomplished performance. Eric James is used to the TOPS stage but warmed into his role as the sinister doctor . Ian Hayes performance was only brief but totally believable
Its easy to forget whose vision this all was and full credit must go to Martyn Williams for being at the helm of a truly wonderful show. As usual the Courts sets are to a West End standard. My only criticism is the ending which I think Courts made a good job of bad writing as the play fails to retain its tension at the very end.
I watched audiences walking away down the Orsett Road praising this virtually professional performance discussing its virtues and looking forward to more.