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Stage frights aplenty in Players' haunting new play

The cast
The cast
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Spine-tingling terror comes leaping from the stage in the Rossendale Players' latest, most terrifying, production to date.

Definitely not one for the faint-hearted, the Players' performance of classic gothic horror novel "The Haunting of Hill House" is a dark and foreboding psychological thriller, perfect for a cold and wintry Lancashire evening.

Adapted from the novel by Shirley Jackson by Leslie F. Andrews, this production marks a seminal moment for The Players, in what must be the most genuinely terrifying play in the group's history.

At the heart of it is Gemma Rooke, who takes centre stage as the haunted, spiritually and physically, Eleanor Vance.

Gemma is terrific as the sweet, troubled young woman invited to stay at the aforementioned foreboding Hill House. She shares much of her dialogue with Players regular Helena Rose, who is her usual ebullient self as the vivacious Theadora.

I'm really not exaggerating when I say that this production is truly scary and caution must be exercised if taking children or those who are easily spooked.

Credit for that must not only go to the wonderful cast, sound effects and direction, but to the imaginative use of set and lighting.

All of these ingredients add up to a wonderfully, edgy atmosphere that will leave the audience on the edge of their seats, or at least eyes behind hands.

Kevin Clarke plays the investigative Dr Montague in a wonderfully under-stated manner. Kevin joined Rossendale Players in 2016 after making it his New Year’s resolution to be in a play, having never acted before.

Much-needed comic relief comes in the form of Anne Fielder as the dour Mrs Dudley, Kathryn Bland as the eccentric Mrs Montague and Anne's husband Gary Kennedy as the hapless teacher Arthur Parker.

Ben McCarthy completes the cast as the foppish Luke Sanderson.

Patrick Duffy returns to directing duties following his hugely successful debut in the role with the award-winning "The Rise And Fall Of Little Voice".

A much different tale is brought to the stage here by Patrick who admits that the tears of joy in "Little Voice" are likely to be replaced by those of fear and terror.

"The Haunting of Hill House" runs until Saturday, February 10th, at the New Millennium Theatre, Burnley Road East, Waterfoot.

Tickets are £9 and can be bought online from Ticket Source (www.ticketsource.co.uk/therossendaleplayers) or reserved by calling 07922021505.