REVIEW: Night Visit, Northern Stage, Newcastle

Sally Pomme Clayton in Night Visit.
Sally Pomme Clayton in Night Visit.

Visiting a spiritualist church for the first time, so I’m told, is a strangely familiar experience, where you already know the routine and the words to all the hymns without any idea how.

It’s a claim which has stuck with me for ages, especially as the teller of this tale is someone I would least expect to believe in anything of the afterlife.

I’ve also come into contact with church members through work and they’ve helpfully kept me, and in turn readers, up to date with their services and events for years. For all that time, I’ve always thought about going along.

Now my intrigue has been piqued once again by Night Visit.

It sees Sally Pomme Clayton recount the stories about her family’s interest in the world of spirits, brought to life with the help of recordings of her grandfather’s voice. She then adds in her own mammoth monologue as she acts out recollections. An impressive feat, as she led the show for well beyond 90 minutes.

Sections of film and graphics, created by Fotios Begklis, are beamed onto a screen, while Panos Ghikas adds in live sounds of percussion and other elements of sound, which bounce around the theatre thanks to various speakers around the room.

Sally Pomme Clayton in Night Visit.

Sally Pomme Clayton in Night Visit.

Sally also weaves in information about the history of spiritualism into that of her family, from recollections of ectoplasm, messages from beyond the grave and use of the Ouija board, to its stories of wartime, working and living conditions, love and companionship.

I have to admit I lost the train of who was who towards the end, with the characters flitting between her ancestors and details about scientist Emmanuel Swedenborg.

But I enjoyed being carried along through the narrative. As I spend most of the day listening, noting and then piecing together people’s stories, it was great to simply be entertained.

I also discovered I can’t play the rim of a glass, other than to make it squeak, just a bit at best, and that I’m useless at audience participation after Sally handed out stemmed tumblers filled with water to the audience to draw the show to a close with an other-worldly sound.

Now I’m looking forward to seeking out more tales of spirits and spooks in the run up to Halloween.

What will the next Night Visit be?