The Signalman – New Theatre – Review
The Signalman by Charles Dickens, adapted by Jane McCarthy
presented by The New Theatre & WitchWork Theatre Company
Until Dec 15th 2018
A signalman hears a call from high above. It is a gentleman and he clambers down to talk to the signalman. The signalman welcomes the man into his hut and offers him a cup of tea. The man is a physician and is staying in the local area. They start to talk about their lives and the signalman tells him a story of the strange apparitions he has witnessed in recent times! These are visions of a strange man warning him of events yet to happen.
This is a production by the New Theatre and WitchWork Theatre company that explores and expands upon a short story by Charles Dickens, which was written in 1866. The tale is a classic ghost story with both of the protagonists telling their own far-fetched tale. While this is a Dickens tale at Christmas, it is not ‘A Christmas Carol’ and the story does not offer an important life lesson. Instead, the production gives you something quite different for the festive period; an unnerving, supernatural tale.
The stage of the New Theatre has been transformed with two walls of the signalman’s hut at one side of the stage and the tunnel and train tracks on the other. It is quite an impressive set by Lisa Krugel that gives a rich impression of the quiet world of the signalman. The programme gives an insight into the life of a Signalman. They lived in absolute isolation and often worked up to 84 hour weeks, as this was the days before unions. This all feeds into the paranoia of the lonely figure of the signalman, as he carries out his selfless task.
The piece is based on a short story by Dickens and while it has been adapted by Jane McCarthy, it keeps the same structure as the original. It is a brief and enigmatic work that will leave the audience with more questions than answers. The real joy of this production is in seeing the two actors on stage. Marcus Lamb plays a bold and commanding physician, a man of science who seeks a mundane answer to all of life’s mysteries. Daniel Reardon plays the lonely and taciturn signalman, a man who has devoted his life to service. The two actors embrace their parts and have an easy rapport on stage, as this unusual tale plays out.
Cast: Marcus Lamb & Daniel Reardon
Director: Matthew Ralli
Lighting Design: Paul Doran
Set Design: Lisa Krugel
Sound Design: Carl Kennedy
Costume Design: Barbara McCarthy
Stage Management:Shannon Cowan & Céin Sookram