Tag Archives: Adam Elliott

Review of The Wolves of Willoughby Chase – 4 Stars


The Wolves of Willoughby Chase

Jack Studio Theatre

Reviewed – 15th December 2017


“a romping yarn with a wicked sense of humour”


I’m sure somewhere in my childhood I either read the Wolves of Willoughby Chase or it was on tv. I know I was a total coward as a child, I watched Daleks from behind the sofa and refused point blank to see anything with ‘ghost’ in the title. When I was eight, some long forgotten kids thriller (certificate PG) gave me nightmares for weeks and vaguely traumatised me for life, so I was a little concerned this story may well have been it, so I decided not to investigate further and to just go and watch this production with no real idea what tale would unfold (gulp).

It set a very atmospheric scene from the start with mist swirling around frosted oak trees, and the silhouette of buildings looming from the small and well used space (designed by Karl Swinyard) while the distant hint of howling hummed, and sinister dark figures emerged …

The young heroine Bonnie (played with gusto by Rebecca Rayne), is loved, indulged and blissfully unaware of her fate when her parents leave their estate, and her, in the dastardly hands of new governess Miss Slighcarp (villinously played by Adam Elliott). Quickly joined by her treacherous companion Mr Grimshaw (played by Bryan Pilkington) Bonnie’s life is thoroughly dismantled by the greedy pair.

Her poor, frail cousin (played with perfect decreasing wimpishness by Julia Pagett) becomes her companion, with local Simon (played by Andrew Hollingworth) their nearest friend in the remote woods that surround the house and shelter the howling wolves. But the children battle to save home and family, forced to take on a quest with courage and determination, with only a handful of allies – and geese – along the way.

The plot comes from a wonderful 1960s adventure story for boys & girls from a novel by Joan Aiken, but set over 100 years earlier, and has been adapted gloriously by Russ Tunney into a romping yarn with a wicked sense of humour. The pace is amazingly fast as you race through the tale, each classic plot twist embraced, loved and delivered with a raised eyebrow, a flounce, or an outrageous grimace.

Although the two ‘girls’ are a constant in the story, the rest of the roles are played by Adam Elliott, Andrew Hollingworth and Bryan Pilkington via quick change, off-stage voices and sheer physicality of acting. There is a tangible sense of the build up to the final show down, and the inevitable meeting of many of the characters (played by the same actor) making the urgency and humour delight the audience. I loved the way characters excused themselves to return as someone else, it didn’t detract from the story at all and filled the theatre with laughter.

With a few songs thrown in for good measure, an utter obsession with cheese, and a brilliant performance from the whole cast this is a fantastically feel-good, festive production. Oh and the laughs are ‘Simply Ridiculous’!


Reviewed by Joanna Hinson

Photography by Tim Stubbs Hughes




The Wolves of Willoughby Chase

is at Jack Studio Theatre until 6th January 2018



Click here to see more of our latest reviews on thespyinthestalls.com




The House on Haunted Hill

Leicester Square Theatre

Reviewed – 2nd November 2017



“a brilliantly bizarre production with constant laughs throughout”


How do I even begin to go about briefly describing House on Haunted Hill? This production was based on the 1959 film starring Vincent Price where an eccentric millionaire offers four strangers $10,000 if they last the night at his Haunted House Party. The Lampoons have taken this and put their own delightful twists in by incorporating their own material. This is a brilliantly bizarre production with constant laughs throughout.

From the very moment of walking into the venue the audience were included in the action. Members of the cast in those protective suits that people at crime scenes wear, hand out programmes and ping pong balls. We’re told that we’ll “need those later” and we’ll “know what to do.” It creates an odd humorous yet mysterious atmosphere that remains for the entire performance.

Part of the production’s greatness lies in the strength of the cast. Josh Harvey and Adam Elliott are particularly strong as Lance Schroeder and Dr David Trent respectively. Elliot’s Southern drawl is enough on its own to raise a laugh. The whole cast are magnificent as Vincent Price. It’s lovely to witness a group of people having so much fun onstage together. There was a moment where they all broke character and it felt like we were part of the joke with them.


The set was low budget but they played on that and it actually managed to add even more to the comedy of the piece. Some of the stranger moments of this production are extraordinary examples of surreal humour in action. One of the highlights is the Balaklava Ballet Band which is probably one of the oddest couple of minutes you will ever spend in a theatre. The use of songs (from an original score by Mote Keatinge) scattered throughout the piece added a whole new layer of comedic value.

A couple of jokes fell a little flat, especially those concerning Lance Schroeder’s attempts at wooing. Despite this, House on Haunted Hill is an hilarious homage to classic horror films and Vincent Price. The audience started laughing as soon as they walked in and didn’t stop until they left.


Reviewed by Katie Douglas

Photography by Headshot Toby




is at Leicester Square Theatre until 11th November



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