Totley Operatic and Dramatic Society’s Last Séance – 17 May 2024, St John’s Church Hall, Sheffield

Review by Artisan Friendly.

‘Last Seance’ by Herb Hassler is a new play and playwright to me.  It is introduced by debut director, Claire Richardson in the programme notes as a ‘journey into the absurd world of fake séances, where the line between the supernatural and the mundane (and the funny!) blur.’ It is a play that was first handed to Claire when she joined TOADS nine years ago and over four nights the play ‘will come to life’.

St John’s Church Hall is quite an intimate space housing around 100 seats. Most were taken up tonight as it was more or less a full house.

‘Last Séance’ charters the antics of a family run séance scam. Through a series of events it humorously provides an insight into some of the tricks that are used to hoodwink customers and is interesting and intriguing subject matter. It also sets the scene for lots of farcical and frenetic action, culminating in the reason why there will be a last séance.

Keeping it all together and running around frantically was Sarah Scott as Eunice who put in a down to earth and energetic performance as ‘psychic’ Eunice / Madame Craft. The cast worked together well as an ensemble projecting with panache. Tim Musgrave as Jake / El Majico was spot on with his characterisations and the audience gave him an appreciative round of applause. He displayed charm and charisma and was hilarious. The audience really enjoyed the show and this was echoed in their mirth throughout. Mention should also be given to Rachel Wilde as Beatrice whose character reminded me of Dame Hilda Bracket.

The play was set in present times and made use of mobile phones and mentioned on line dating. The set remained the same throughout and much of the action took place around a table placed centre stage. The scenes were punctuated by closed curtains and a spooky musical interlude which was a nice touch.

All in all it was a great night out and even had a raffle thrown in there too!

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