THE SMALL HAND

The stage version of my ghost story, adapted by Clive Francis, opened at the Theatre Royal Windsor on Tuesday 7 October.  It starred Andrew Lancel, Robert Duncan and Diane Keen and is directed by Roy Marsden... produced by Bill Kenwright. After Windsor it goes on a short-ish tour. Watch this space for further productions.First Night review of The Small Hand by Susan Hill at the Theatre Royal Windsor      Published: 8 Oct 2014 11:300 commentsBy Tim ColeFirst things first. This is the best show I have seen at the Theatre Royal this year.  Share this image Anyone with a taste for a good psychological thriller will love this production, which had the audience alternately jumping out of their seats or trying to hide in them.Susan Hill’s best known work of fiction dealing with the supernatural, The Woman In Black, was adapted for the stage by Stephen Mallatratt in 1987 and is currently the second longest-running play in the West End.Hill has always maintained that she has no aptitude as a playwright and has half written scripts in cupboards all over her house.Her delight at the success of Mallatratt’s adaptation of her work, will now surely be matched when she comes to Windsor to see how Clive Francis has reworked The Small Hand for the stage.Unlike The Woman In Black, this is a show with a modern setting. It includes many of the key elements of a classic ghost story.There is an overgrown house found by accident down a winding lane, a mysterious photograph from a character’s childhood, a strange journey to the wilds of Scotland and at the heart of it all a terrible secret.It is hard to know who to start with in offering praise for the production.On stage Andrew Lancel as Adam Snow offers a compelling characterisation of a man being driven to madness by events he doesn’t understand, struggling to separate the real and the imagined.The female roles and that of one narrator are played by Diane Keen, who offers advice, guidance and warnings at different stages.Her counterpart, Robert Duncan, has the male roles, including Snow’s brother, a police detective and a Scottish laird, plus the other narrator’s part.Credit also goes to six-year-old Charlie Ward for his part in the production as the young boy.But for all the fabulous acting on show, the production is made by its design and direction.With as experienced a man as Roy Marsden, best known as PD James’ detective Inspector Dalgliesh, in the directors chair, this was always likely to be a hit.But the design of the show by Elroy Ashmore provides a stunning atmosphere for each scene. He has Nick Richings, as lighting designer, Dan Samson, as sound designer, and Nina Dunn, as projection designer to create a magnificent whole.The effects are by turns chilling, oppressive and downright terrifying. There are a few moments of humour – but the audience notably laughed a little louder than normal at the chance to take a breath for some light relief. I`m a pleased for the cast and crew and everyone involved. here's crossing fingers for the rest of the tour and then, we hope, a West End transfer. EVENTS COMING UPI am on BBC Radio 4's START THE WEEK on Monday next, discussing ghosts and other frightening (or not) manifestations, and talking about my new ghost story, PRINTERS DEVIL COURT. Others with me include one of our top crime writers, Val McDermid.After that I do a BBC NEWS, MEET THE AUTHOR short interview, before heading off to sigtn books at Hatchards, Piccadilly, and back in the offices of publisher Profile.The following week sees me doing an interview at the BRITISH LIBRARY, to coincide with their new exhibition about the Gothic. This is on 20th October at 6.30 and I`ll be in cn versation with Stephanie Merritt, who writes as S.J. Parris. Always good to be at the BL, which is a wonderful building - well, on the inside anyway.