Theatre Review: The Mist in the Mirror – Oldham Coliseum


This review was originally written for The Public Reviews

Susan Hill’s spine-chilling novel The Mist in the Mirror makes its world premiere at Oldham Coliseum Theatre this month before embarking on a national tour… and it’s not for the faint hearted!

Adapted for stage by Ian Kershaw, The Mist in the Mirror tells the story of intrepid traveller James Monmouth and his pursuit of his childhood hero, the explorer Conrad Vane. The audience is invited to eavesdrop on the gothic ghostly tale as Monmouth’s research leads him from Africa to England as he begins to unravel the mysteries of the past. But who is the pale little boy who follows him around and what is the uncontrollable sobbing that only James can hear?

Chilling, tense and incredibly atmospheric, The Mist in the Mirror is a spine-chilling ghost story that will have you on the edge of your seat. Like many of Hill’s other works (The Woman in Black, The Small Hand) it boasts all the elements of a classic ghost story, from intrigue and suspense to frights and even a few laughs. The first half of the play is a little slow to get going but the action in the second half more than makes up for it. What makes production truly special however is its clever use of set, lighting and visual effects. Barney George’s simple but effective set design, Andrew Crofts’ eerie lighting set-up and Simon Wainwright’s haunting video projections all combine to create a spooky and unnerving atmosphere that will send a shiver down your spine.

The Mist in the Mirror features excellent performances from the cast. Paul Warriner is superb as James Monmouth, playing the naïve but stubborn traveller with purpose and determination. Martin Reeve is also excellent as Dr Valentine Dancer, Sir Lionel Quincebridge and Mr Beamish, demonstrating his talent and diversity as he traverses through the roles. The story is guided by Jack Lord who plays the Reader with Caroline Harding as Lady Viola Quincebridge and Sarah Eve as Esther making up the rest of the small but talented cast.

The play’s frightening but clever ending is sure to get your heart racing even if it does leave you with a few unanswered questions at the end. All in all, Oldham Coliseum Theatre and Imitating the Dog have done a fantastic job of turning Hill’s gothic novel into a scary, chilling and gripping stage play that will scare you out of your wits. You’ll certainly be looking over your shoulder on the way home…

4 out of 5 stars

Runs until 21 February

Reviewer: Donna Kelly