REVIEW: The Dead, Live (GM Fringe festival)

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There was so much that could go wrong with a ghost story on stage, that its not too surprising that there aren’t many doing the rounds. Thankfully, this tale from the pen of Daniel Thackeray is more than a match for any stage. Directed by Alex Shepley, it’s performance at The Met in Bury was watched by Andrew Riley.

Lawrence Dodds (Howard Whittock) is what you would call (in the nicest way possible), jaded. A medium who drinks too much, relies on actors for his stories from beyond the grave, yet who has a real (but wasted) talent.

When we first meet him, he is pacing the stage ahead of performance, having his lighting adjusted to show his best side, and to drink his whisky. Then we meet Rachael (Carly Tarett) one of his actor plants who is late for rehearsal, and has to be coached by Lawrence about when she should jump in with her “dead relative”, a miner.

We hear Lawrence explain how he needs her to be believable in the audience and what he needs her story to be. We also hear that he doesn’t always need to use his plants, but likes to have them in case the feeling in the room “drops”. He also lets slip that he hates doing all the prep work on his own, especially after losing his assistant.

We hear Rachael tell him about her elder brother and a tale from when she was young, as well as the Great Grandfather who was a miner, neither of which is juicy enough for our Lawrence. He makes her tale more dramatic, and sends her out to the bar to mingle with the real audience.

Carly Tarett and Howard Whittock in The Dead, Live

Carly Tarett and Howard Whittock in “The Dead, Live”

Once the show begins, and he starts to “feel” his spirits from the beyond, he is confronted by a woman from the audience (Anne Baron) who is certain he is talking about her Son, Adam, who slit his own throat, and who she is certain Lawrence not only knows, but was responsible for.

I don’t want to go into much more, but we have heart attacks, stage invasions, mysterious banging and a wonderful performance from everyone involved.

Howard Whittock is so convincing as Dodds, every move on stage is so measured and precise, its hard not to wonder if he really can speak to the dead!

This performance was staged in the newly renovated Bury Met, in a space called The Box, and it was perfect.

Small, dark, and limited seating. The perfect venue for a ghost story.

8.5 from 10

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