The Enfield Haunting Live review by Ryan Beardsley

The tale of the Enfield poltergeist is probably the most well-known ghost story in Britain; Strange But True? a Sky drama, BBC documentaries, and even a Hollywood sequel in the shape of The Conjuring 2 have paved the way for the new stage show by Paul Unwin starring Catherine Tate and David Threlfall.

For those who have somehow managed to avoid the above, there is a family in a North London terrace that claims a poltergeist is also part of the family, and the paranormal investigators and even the national media have taken a keen interest.

The Enfield Haunting
Photo Copyright © Marc Brenner

Let’s start with the positives, Lee Newby’s set design is appropriately kitchen sink 70’s terrace housing, it’s authentic, menacing, and filled me with optimism before curtains up, sadly the atmosphere only depleted once the cast entered the stage.

David Threlfall as paranormal investigator Maurice Grosse holds the show together almost singlehandedly, admirably depicting a dedicated and lonely man desperately searching for signs of life after death as he ingratiates himself with the Hodgson family, particularly the three children.

The Enfield Haunting
Photo Copyright © Marc Brenner

Newcomer Ella Schrey-Yeats as youngest daughter Janet, the supposed victim of demonic possession is suitably creepy throughout and does her best in a role where she spends half of it unconscious…

But to be honest I’m clutching at straws. The play is a muddle from start to finish and unsure of what it wants to be. One moment it is aping Carry On-esque humour, complete with mugging for the audience, then there are ham-fisted attempts at class commentary which jar as though lifted from another script entirely. It’s a pity because when the show focuses on the horror elements, it is actually pretty solid whilst not groundbreaking, it would have been better to choose a tone and stick with it.

The Enfield Haunting
Photo Copyright © Marc Brenner

I also didn’t appreciate the predatory/sexual undertones throughout, with the not-so-subtle implication that Maurice Grosse may have had ulterior motives to spend so much time with the young sisters in question. I found this to be in poor taste as all other accounts reflect the late Grosse was a decent man struggling with the grief of his own loss, and it adds nothing to the story.

Many in the audience are probably coming to see Catherine Tate’s first West End role in a decade or so and in that respect they might not be too disappointed, she’s game and as expected, hits the mark in the show’s attempts at comedy but ultimately she feels wasted on such a lackluster script.

Photo Copyright © Marc Brenner

All things considered, after 75 minutes which honestly felt twice as long, it’s fair to say this mystery would have been better left at number 284 Green Street with its ghostly inhabitant and be allowed to rest in peace once and for all.

Performance Dates Until Saturday 2 March 2024
Performance Times
Mondays – Saturdays at 7.30pm
Thursday & Saturday matinees at 2.30pm

Tickets from £25
Box Office: 0333 009 6690

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