The Canterville Ghost review: An insidiously engaging stage version of Wilde’s comic story

Not so much a play within a play as a story within a cabaret, it features a quartet of “Variety artistes” – illusionist Callum Patrick Hughes, psychic Katie Tranter, comedian/ventriloquist Matt Jopling and compere/pianist Steve Watts – who intersperse the spooky tale with their own acts. Imbued with music hall nostalgia and raucous East End character, the performers create a rapport with the audience that never lets up.

The ramshackle nature of the piece as the quick-changing cast roll props, doorways and moth-eaten velvet curtains around the stage enhances the charm and conceals the narrative subterfuge of director/writers Olivia Jacobs & Toby Mitchell in a classic piece of ghost story misdirection.

John Fiber & Andy Shaw’s cleverly constructed songs and atmospheric sound effects all contribute to an affectionate, parodic entertainment with a big, big heart.