Darlington Hippodrome – until 20 November 2021
I’ve never seen the film version of Sleepy Hollow, but Phillip Meeks’ adaption of Washington Irving’s tale did intrigue me enough to want to seek out the book to read. (Currently 49p for the Kindle edition).
This version tells a lot of little tales, jumping forward and backward in time, all interspaced with music and dancing and some ghoulish chanting of nursery rhymes. It’s a bit hard to follow if I’m honest, so I’m hoping the book will explain what I was actually watching.
The production begins quite promisingly, walking into the auditorium to be faced with a magnificently spooky set designed by Amy Watts, with lighting designed by Jason Addison and sound designed by Sam Glossop. But then the production began and what could have been a very promising and terrifying show fell a bit flat.
The accents of the inhabitants of Sleepy Hollow were, at times, hard to follow, especially when the cast were facing away from the audience.
Ichabod Crane (Sam Jackson) arrives in Sleepy Hollow supposedly by accident but begins to work as the school teacher. Brom van Brunt takes against him seeing him as both a rival for the affections of Katrina van Tassel (Rose Quentin) but also with a fancy for him, himself. Katrina’s supposed father Balthus (Bill Ward) is the village elder, in charge of everything in the Hollow. And Widow Papenfuss (Wendi Peters) seems to be the village wise woman, taking Ichabod as a lodger in her house. With the whole cast playing all the roles Tommy Sim’aan is at his best when he plays Alice. It appears that Ichabod was searching for someone on the orders of his guardian, but all these stories intermingle with the ghostly tales told on Hallowmas with the headless horseman finally making an appearance.
For me the best scene was the beginning of Act 2, when Ichabod has a nightmare. Chris Cuming’s choreography was outstanding and gave the dream real depth and substance, something which was lacking from the rest of the show.
Imagine if Blue Peter made horror stories and you might get the idea.