Hot on the heels of their last sold-out performance of the comedy The Hound of the Baskervilles, Bersted Arts return to the Regis Centre this February with the spine-chilling play The Haunting.
When a young book dealer, David Filde, is employed by a former associate of his uncle to catalogue a private library, he finds an incredible array of rare and antiquarian books.
But as a series of strange and unexplained events conspires to keep Filde from his work, he realises that if he is to convince his sceptical employer that the mysterious phenomena he is experiencing are real, they must journey together to the very edge of terror and beyond…
Adapted from several ghost stories by Charles Dickens, The Haunting’ draws audiences in with terrific suspense, plays with their senses and promises to leave them with goose bumps, promises Will Hackett who will share the stage with Paul Garnham in the two-hander.
Performances will be on the Little Alex stage from Thursday to Saturday, February 6-8 at 7.30pm, with a 2.30pm Saturday matinee.
“We do some regular play-readings and we look out for things and we think about what we have done previously,” Will says. “And this one really stood out. It is very different to what we have done previously. The last two we have done have been very much comedy, but with this one we are taking a very different route.
“This is serious drama, based on the ghost stories of Charles Dickens. I think it is two or three of them, adapted together and put into a single play by Hugh Janes. And it is a good challenge for us. There are a lot of effects in it, designed to make the audience jump and get them really immersed.”
The attraction of ghost stories generally, Will feels, is the attraction of the unknown: “That’s the fascination for people, wondering whether it is real or not. People like to be drawn in. They like the shock factor. It is just something different… plus there is not a lot like this going on in the Bognor area or indeed within the Regis Centre either. It is scratching that itch. I think people like to be taken out of their comfort zones. Everyone will have their own thoughts as to whether there is an afterlife or not. There is evidence that will suggest there is… or maybe ‘evidence’ in quotation marks. But people are just fascinated by it.”
As for just how scared we are going to be, as Will says, it is going to depend on the quality of the play and the staging, but also on the quality of the acting.
“It all demands a lot of thought beforehand. We want to create that experience and provide really good suspense and atmosphere for the audience.”
Will is playing Filde, charged with cataloguing the private library; Paul’s character is the sceptic: “And they go on this journey together and find out what is happening which leads them to a big conclusion where everything is revealed… or not!”
Bersted Arts launched in 2013, and all those involved are pleased with its success: “We have done well. We have got a community choir which is 70 strong. We do drama now and comedy and we have been doing that since 2016, though we are ramping that up this year. And we have done educational workshops in schools on things like anti-bullying, and we have also got the Bersted Boys performing across the area. We are getting our fingers into lots of pies!” Tickets from the venue.