It’s always been a bit of a mystery to me why ghost stories are traditional at Christmas and yet, this story, The Haunting, which opens this week at Ilkley Playhouse, seems to be just the thing to usher in the New Year. Written by Charles Dickens and adapted by Hugh Janes, this mysterious and compelling story is utterly intriguing.

Gordon Williamson has designed a beautifully atmospheric set, Victorian grey with that icy, brittle chill to the woodwork and a sombre feeling only relieved by the book cases, laden with heavy tomes, the action is played out in a storm. Through the rattling windows of this gentleman’s library is glimpsed a wild moorland from which emerges a man, David Filde, who has been engaged to catalogue and sell the collection of books.

Eoin Howe, as David, is every inch the Victorian. This is an academic with great knowledge of his trade and yet it rapidly become clear that there is something preventing him from conducting his business in the most professional of manners. From the outset there are strange goings on - things that move around the room unaided and sounds emanate from the very walls.

But for a wonderfully enchanting and other-worldly Miss Haversham style apparition, played by Erin Dale, this is essentially a two-hander. Chris Winstanley plays Lord Grey – son of the original collector and keen to be rid of his father’s collected treasures. A sceptic, Lord Grey is hard to convince of the phenomena that Filde is experiencing and so the frustration and fear escalate. However, it slowly becomes clear that there are reasons why David should be more affected by the spectral activity than the Lord and so slowly, the story unfolds and as it does the two men are drawn closer to an understanding as bitter and unhappy truths become clearer.

Dick Hebbert directing, has ensured that this piece retains plenty of suspense and intrigue with plot twists and revelations to enthral – no spoilers here!

This wonderful piece – perfect for a chilly January night – runs at Ilkley Playhouse until 27th January.

Tickets are available by calling 01943 609539 or on line at