Ghost Train – Ghost story or comedy??

I remember being told that Arnold Ridley’s The Ghost Train was the most requested play by Royal Exchange audiences.  If that is true, I can’t imagine many of those expected to see a play featuring comedy and physical theatre.  Don’t get me wrong; I would love to see much more physical theatre in mainstream productions, and this play is a great achievement.  I just think commercially the play falls between two audiences.  And artistically it falls between two styles.

Told by an Idiot are a talented company, and their last two productions, Too Clever by Half and You Can’t Take it with You were excellent.  The acting is consistently strong, and they always come up with innovative ways to excite and surprise.

This production is genuinely funny, stylistically reminiscent of 39 Steps, with brilliant use of movement, timing and character details to produce some memorable scenes.  But at heart this is a ghost story, and it only skirts around the tension at the root of the script.  There is always something missing.  In Lyn Gardner’s excellent review, she concludes that ‘the comedy gets the upper hand at the expense of the supernatural’.

Manchester theatre is changing and there is innovative thinking at all the main theatres.  But this production was not sold out.  Is Manchester theatre moving too fast for audiences to keep up?



Theatre lover, amateur director, occasional actor, writer.

One Response to “Ghost Train – Ghost story or comedy??”

  1. Andrew Wild says:

    “Do you think I might be excused?” – Charles Godfrey

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