The Dunstan Creek Haunting

by The Reviewer

Editor’s Note: Due to me being away this review was held up in being posted. We apologise to the people involved – the reviewer did their job and got it to me very quickly. I did not do my job.

Circa Theatre Opening night  21 March 2018

Written and performed by David Ladderman and Lizzie Tollemache

Director: Daniel Pengelly with further workshopping by Mike Friend

Company: Rollicking Entertainment

First produced in association with The Court Theatre, Christchurch.

The Dunstan Creek Haunting is bloody good fun, a piece of immersive theatre, and the perfect antidote to a stressful week, provide your blood pressure is up to it. 

Husband and wife duo Lizzie Tollemache and David Ladderman spent their honeymoon exploring ghost stories from Central Otago: where over a century ago hundreds of lonely people worked and died in pursuit of riches during the Goldrush.. 

The goldminers and people who lived amongst them left behind a rich vein of stories, and more than a few mysteries. Lizzie and David begin by telling us a few, before the projector mysteriously breaks, just as they’re embarking on story of Rose the proprietress of the St Bathan’s hotel, and her goldminer suitor Ben. 

What’s real, what’s stagecraft, what’s cleverly planned… who knows.  The sound and lighting design is magnificent, creating a rich immersive experience, with a few props doing expected and unexpected things, leading the audience to jump, gasp and laugh..  

As the husband and wife the back and forth patter felt a bit forced at times: the timing will tighten as things go on. I was on the right hand side of the theatre and found David easier to hear than Lizzie at the start: taking a bit more time to use her wonderful voice more effectively would help (she sang at one point, for all-too-brief a moment so the instrument is more than there). 

I chatted to a few people after: one said that at times it felt a bit like a dress rehearsal.  I agree. We both would have enjoyed more stories and photos from the Goldrush era at the beginning.  In fact there may be another show (or ten) there. It made me wonder what a collaboration with Alice Canton might bring; Alice’s award-winning show OTHER (Chinese) explores the NZ Chinese experience.   (hey, a reviewer can dream: Alice, Lizzie and director Dan are Court Jester improviser alums – it might happen!). 

Overall, while it’s not a perfect show, there’s a lot that’s absolutely brilliant.. I came out of the theatre refreshed, entertained, reflective and with a huge smile on my face.  Brilliant stress release.

It’s a 2 week limited run, so if you love ghost stories – get in before 20 July.  

9 – 20 July – TWO WEEKS ONLY!

Circa One

Tues – Thurs 6.30pm

Fri – Sat 8pm

Sun 4pm

$25 – $52

Runtime: 70 minutes. No interval

Post-show Q&A Tuesday 16 July


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