The Haunting

Prince Moo The Haunting Gig Clarke and Cameron DaddoAdapted by Hugh Janes for the stage from the ghost stories of Charles Dickens, Prince Moo Productions presents The Haunting at Melbourne’s Athenaeum Theatre for a limited season from 16 June 2017.

Following his critically-acclaimed performance as Captain Von Trapp in The Sound of Music, Cameron Daddo returns to Melbourne to play Lord Grey, who will be joined by Gig Clarke (The Code, Rake) as David Filde. Director Jennifer Dean, following her turn as co-director on the Australian national tour of Ghost Stories for Prince Moo Productions in 2016, is joined by John Kerr (Set Design) and Jason Bovaird (Lighting Design).

In an ancient mansion in England, sheltering from the howling winds that tear across the surrounding desolate moorland, two men stumble across a dark and terrifying secret that will change their lives forever… When antiquarian book dealer David Filde is employed by a former associate of his uncle to catalogue an impressive library, he finds an incredible array of rare and antiquated books.

But as a series of strange and unexplained events conspire to keep Filde from his work, he discovers that things are not always as they seem. 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, to discover the reason for the haunting visitations…

“Charles Dickens wrote some of the most popular novels in the English language,” says playwright Hugh Janes. “The richness of his characters, narrative descriptions, his concern for social reform, his comedy and his strong storylines mean his work is continually being adapted into one medium or the other. When I came to write The Haunting, I thought all Dickens’ ghost stories had probably been done too – but no.”

“I already had the basic idea for the story; one of my uncles was an antiquarian book dealer in Brighton and, during a visit to an old Sussex manor, he was looking at some books in the cellar when a woman appeared. She watched him for a while and then vanished; he knew she was a ghost.”

“He returned to the manor on several occasions, hoping to find out more about her, and it was written about in the local press, but the woman never reappeared. Although my uncle’s story was a start, I needed more and fortunately came across some of Dickens’ short ghost stories.”

“Individually the tales didn’t strike me as dramatic enough for the stage, so The Haunting is a blend of five short stories with elements of Dickens’ private life, his books and letters,” adds Janes.

Training at the Italia Conti Stage School in the late 1950’s, Hugh Janes worked professionally as an actor for over 25 years. In 1975 he became a writer and script consultant for the BBC’s leading children’s programme Play Away, and wrote and devised many scripts for leading children’s theatre companies.

Janes’ plays include: Master Forger, The Perfect Murder, Riot Night, Museum of Horror, A Soldier’s Song, Two of a Kind, After Dark, and Come To Where I’m From. The Haunting was first performed at the Theatre Royal, Windsor on 2 November 2010, and toured the UK the following year.

The Haunting
The Athenaeum Theatre, 188 Collins Street, Melbourne
Season: 16 June – 1 July 2017 (preview: 15 June)

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Image: Gig Clarke and Cameron Daddo star in The Haunting (supplied)