Friday, January 18, 2008


Nunkie Theatre Company at the Cramphorn


An academic snoozes in his armchair. He wakes to share with us a couple of ghost stories from the master of the genre, M R James.

R M Lloyd Parry is a consummate performer. Sticking very close to the text, he nonetheless makes each story sound fresh and spontaneous, and convinces us that we are individually his only audience.

Both stories come from Ghost Stories of an Antiquary. The first, The Ash Tree, is a creepy tale of witches and revenge. The second, also set in East Anglia, is the more famous Whistle and I'll Come to You, a more subtle, scarier story altogether. It was wonderful to watch Lloyd Parry make an apparition from a handkerchief, and, at the start, press his lonely supper into service as a lively High Table conversation. Best use of soup in a supporting role. There was humour, too, especially in this second piece, drawing us in to the narrative.

For atmosphere, the shadowy figure of the storyteller was lit only by a couple of candles, and although this was undeniably effective, even in the Cramphorn, we did lose some detail, and occasionally, words decayed too quickly into the darkness.

But a tour-de-force of the story-tellers art, and I'd certainly travel to hear him again, perhaps in a suitably spooky setting.

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