The Dunstan Creek Haunting
Written by: Lizzie Tollemache and David Ladderman
Directed by: Dan Pengelly
Circa Theatre, 9th Jul 2019
Reviewed by: Madelaine Empson
David Ladderman and Lizzie Tollemache encountered ghost stories galore on their honeymoon in Central Otago. As they learned more and more local legends in every town they visited, strange and stranger occurrences started paranormally plaguing them. Inspired and a little spooked, the couple set about creating The Dunstan Creek Haunting.
In this Circa One show, Ladderman and Tollemache relay the tales that peppered (and salt circled) their travels. Particular emphasis is placed on the legend of Rose, the prim and proper proprietor of the Vulcan Hotel in Saint Bathans. Rose met an untimely death and is said to haunt room one of the hotel today.
The Dunstan Creek Haunting is delightfully metatheatrical, its performers gliding between direct address, playful banter, and “serious acting” (thanks for warning us David). As with every Rollicking Entertainment show I’ve seen, Ladderman and Tollemache strike up a quick and easy relationship with their audience. Individually, they both posses a warm and rich stage presence. Put them together and it’s dynamite.
What I most appreciate about the show is, when things take a turn for the dark, we’re told we can leave if we’re uncomfortable. It puts me at ease knowing anyone who might object to a supernatural ritual for any reason doesn’t have to witness one. On this evening, we all stay, and I can tell you with complete conviction I’m holding my breath the whole time. The energy is contagious as terrified giggles and giddy screams resonate through the pitch-black theatre.
Special credit must be given here to Molloy for his eerie sound and lighting design, full of surprises I can’t spoil. Chrissy Larsen’s props add an extra layer of authenticity to Richard van den Berg’s sepia-hued set imbued with the whispers of bygone days.
The Dunstan Creek Haunting is a perfectly bite-sized thriller, with the suspense building to boiling point in 70 minutes. It’s a hugely entertaining mid-winter screamfest not for the faint-hearted – bring someone/something to squeeze or be damned!