IT’S always interesting when an artist strongly associated with one field produces a work that’s quite different.

An example of this is making its way to the Ilkley Playhouse this month, with a production of a ghost story from the pen of legendary playwright Alan Ayckbourn.

Haunting Julia runs in the Playhouse’s Wildman studio from Monday, February 4th to Saturday, February 9th. Inspired by Susan Hill’s The Woman in Black, it’s the first play in Ayckbourn’s supernatural trilogy, known collectively as Things that Go Bump in the Night.

The titular Julia was a musical prodigy, able to compose symphonies even as a young child. Her potential, and everything else, vanished when her body was found mysteriously in an attic. The play’s set a decade later, when her father – still haunted by loss, and now recently widowed – attempts to use a psychic to contact her spirit.

It’s not a straightforward ghost story: it explores themes of loneliness and loss as well as the sublime; while the double-edged sword of prodigious talent – can a gift also be a burden? – also comes under the spotlight. Plus of course, there’s plenty of Ayckbourn wry wit. So, if you only know Ayckbourn as a comedy writer, come along to see a great piece of drama: different ink from the same quill.

Finally, the next Ilkley Playhouse Stagefright stand-up comedy night is on Saturday, February 16th. Christian Reilly is an energetic improviser, as well as a recent Edinburgh Fringe award winner. He’s also a keen musician, using guitar and vocal mimicry to draw humour from various musical genres, a little in the style of Bill Bailey.

Also performing is Sheffield man Tom Wrigglesworth, recipient of a recent Sony Award for his Radio 4 series Open Letters, who you may recognise from Russell Howard’s Good News. The evening will, as usual, be compered by Anthony J. Brown, toting his usual dapper tailoring, jet-black humour and slow, deadpan delivery.

Tickets for Haunting Julia and the Stagefright comedy night can be bought online at or by calling 01943 609539 during box office opening times.

by Claire Emmott