STAG’s most recent open slot, The Haunting of 2/2, by Rory Doherty, is billed as the story of a nightmare flat, like you’ve never seen it before, the official blurb reading ‘When Jess calls her flatmates, Seth, Louise & Noah for a flat meeting to address the feeling that the flat is drifting apart and not pulling their weight, she is interrupted by Noah’s revelation that their flat is HAUNTED! As spooky happenings start occurring around the flat, they start to realise the ghosts’ intent is a lot more personal than they thought… The play in undoubtably funny, but I fear that I am not witnessing the best of STAG, as I felt the production suffered from issues that detracted from the overall spectacle.
Rory is, of course, the writer/director behind last semesters open slot, I shot the Detective (my review of which can be found here: https://gyoumagazine.com/2018/11/12/theatre-review-stag-presents-i-shot-the-detective/). And, though they are not exactly comparable creations, ISTD being a period farce and Haunting being more along the lines of a modern sitcom, I still feel that one cannot help comparing them and I fear it is a comparison that comes off rather unfavourably. ISTD was unquestionably funny but had its share of tender moments. Haunting, meanwhile, I fear didn’t quite live up to its predecessor. Certainly, it got me asking the question that I have heard a lot of other people ask; Why, in a society as full of writers and directors as STAG, have they used the same person for both open slots?
I fear, however, that I am being unfair, as the genuine fault did not lie with the direction or writing, Rory’s field, but with the acting. There were some very good performances, an especially amusing one from Ewan Shand as Seth, who almost had me convinced at one point that he was being attacked by an invisible skeletal spider. However, there were moments, more than I would like to admit, where I felt that the acting wasn’t even bad, it simply wasn’t there. Certain cast members stumbled hurriedly over their lines, unemotionally, as though trying to get them out before they forgot them. Due, in part, to this hurried and hampered delivery, I felt that I didn’t connect with the characters as I had in ISTD and, as a result, when an emotional moment came along, I didn’t feel sympathy like I felt I should. Haunting of 2/2 was, in short, a good script and a fun play, but let down at times with some lacklustre performances.