Theatre review: Curse of Cranholme Abbey

Edinburgh Festival Fringe: In the present day, a group of young people arrive at the ruined manor inherited by Charlie.

Pleasance Courtyard (Venue 33)


During the Second World War, soldier Charlie prepares to propose at the family estate.

And in Victorian times, a young bride comes to terms with the fact that she’s nothing but a brood mare for the cold, twice-widowed Charles.

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One thing you can’t accuse this ghost story of is lack of pace. From the beginning, the members of Young Pleasance alternate between the three eras, laying out the stories and cutting ever quicker. By the climax, the worlds are intersecting like a Venn diagram of horror.

Well, that’s the idea. The frenetic pace brings confusion, especially when people begin dressing in the costumes of previous years – and does everyone have to be called Charlie? A ghost story needs to slow down occasionally for the attempted chills to land.

Apart from one clever transition involving a newspaper, this failed to surprise. More often, I was stifling a giggle at the constant pushing on and offstage of women on staircases, or the roaming stone arches perhaps meant to indicate where we are in some Cluedo-style floorplan. The declamatory delivery of the supporting players handling the exposition was more amusing than dramatically useful. The main actors are fine, but no one got enough stage time to impress.

The costumes are decent, and the soundscape – when not loudly informing us that THAT IS A SCARY BIT, HONEST – impressive, but that’s not reason enough to recommend.

All in all, the only thing Cran­holme Abbey is haunted by is cheese.

Until 19 August. Today 3:30pm.