Philip Meeks, after the short story by Washington Irving
Tilted Wig Productions
Theatr Clwyd, Mold
March 8-12, 2022; 2hrs.
Philip Meeks's adaptation of Washington Irving's short story has to live up to the expectations of an audience potentially influenced by versions from Disney and Tim Burton, among others. So does it capture the suspense and impending doom of the tale?
It is certainly an engaging play, delivered well by Wendi Peters, Bill Ward, Sam Jackson, Rose Quentin Lewis Cope and Jon-Paul Rowden.
As the action develops, a sense of foreboding grows. Jake Smith's production sets us up for a disaster, undercutting reason with legend and superstition and showing that Ichabod Crane is powerless to avoid such an outcome.
Is this some supernatural curse being wrought, or an act of jealous rage? The story keeps you guessing. Despite trying to induce horror, there is a nice use of humour with some occasional, whimsical one-liners to lighten the mood.
The set, music, lighting and atmosphere all develop a sense of mystery and there are some great special effects. Illusions director Filipe Carvalho sets out to achieve gasps from the audience and manages it effectively with clever magic tricks, whether it's the death of the horseman or Crane's vivid dream. I also liked the use of nursery rhyme to induce false comfort to the sinister environment.
Irving's creation of the headless horseman is seen as seminal in developing a genre of the American monster. Without the horseman there might not have been King Kong, nor the Creature from the Black Lagoon, nor Freddie Kruger, so it's pleasing to see the horseman return to take his place among the ranks of American characters of our bad dreams...
Tickets and information here.