Mary Rose

Matthew Parker’s version of this ghost story by JM Barrie is often mournfully beautiful, capturing the play’s dark swell of loss and need.

It’s 1919 and Harry has returned to his family home after years abroad and time in the army. But the Sussex house, although locked up, is not empty. It holds the secret of Mary Rose, a twice-lost girl whose name is a whisper in the air.

Haunting choral arrangements and an ensemble of spirits who slip easily through the walls of a shrouded drawing-room evoke a world weakened by grief, caught between the spectre of the past and an uncertain future.

Jessie Cave imbues the otherworldly Mary Rose with a compellingly flighty, birdlike quality, while Nicholas Hoad and Maggie Robson bring light to the darkness as her loving parents. Phil Bishop and Carsten Hayes also impress as unlikely class-warrior pastor Cameron and Mary Rose’s devoted husband. And Charlie Kerson shows us that, beneath his swagger, Harry is as lost as any ghost.

Some elements, particularly the choreography, occasionally threaten to tear the fragile tissue of a play which is already uncertain in tone. But nevertheless this is an atmospheric and at times quietly devastating production.

First published by Time Out