PUBLISHED 16 September 2022
On Thursday 15th September, a group of Sixth Formers gathered outside the Grand Theatre, having walked a great distance (approximately two metres) from Nando’s. We chatted expectantly as we found our seats, eyeing the busy set of the stage. A minute’s silence was called in remembrance of the Queen, a pause left… then darkness descended.
An office, in a state of disarray that impressed even the busiest A-level students, stood doused in meagre yellow light, corners cast into shadow by clutter piled precariously on shelves. Filing cabinets, battered and rusted, clustered around a desk with two chairs waiting, all centred around a tape recorder idling. This small, worn down establishment lay on the Channel isle of Guernsey, the workplace of our harried protagonist, John, who ignores the storm as it worsens and worsens outside in favour of beginning the recordings for his podcast of the isle’s history.
Within minutes of the opening, a clear fact is established: John does not believe in ghosts. The audience is invited to accept this as easy fact; he is a historian, a man of testimony backed by evidence, not a weaver of fables and fantasies. Yet even as he reiterates this detail, his antithesis enters, a younger man, soaked to the bone and beyond. This is Phelps, who has dedicated his life to discovering the truth he has been unable to pinpoint. He has come to be the guest on John’s podcast, and as such clutches a bag of proof—supposedly undeniable proof—to his chest. Questions fly between the two, but even as fog hangs heavily overhead the first testimony lies thickly on the stage. The development is slow, and the audience follows seemingly unrelated plot lines for a substantial section of the play, trekking through eras and evasions, premonitions and protestations.
The different stories begin to hold substance, and as Phelps grows more and more impassioned, the lights surrender to the whim of the supernatural. Sharp lightning and sluggish thunder snap their way through the scenes, and as John’s ringtone—the theme tune to ‘Psycho’—combines with unexpected screams, we jump to attention in our seats. As the two actors dip in and out of the stories Phelps tells—all the blood, pain, and anguish one would expect—a manic edge begins to take shape, slicing through the prior disconnect between audience and actors. Although, this start comes a little late for many who have understandably lost some interest in the slow-building plot, the truth is woven together in such a way that the past, future, and present all blur through their indistinct barriers, and the storyline reaches an undeniable twist. This, combined with the creeping shift in character dynamic and the growing desperation seen on John’s terrified face, leaves the audience pulling together the pieces of a shattered story, woven together by the guilt of a man’s trembling mind.
Thank you very much to Mr Maund for arranging an enjoyable evening out for Sixth Form—we appreciate the time and effort put into giving us these opportunities
Report written by Pippa Mc G, Year 12