Bembridge Little Theatre Club’s production of Arnold Ridley’s The Ghost Train was a bold and chilling move that paid off, performing to sold out audiences. 

A comedy thriller written in 1923, Ridley’s story gravitates around a remote Cornish railway station, where a group of travellers find themselves stranded for the night. 

Written as a play for stage, this adaptation saw it transformed into that of a radio drama.

Having never listened to a radio play before, I had no idea what to expect on arrival in the quaint village hall.

Luckily for me, the direction was in the capable hands of Hanna Emily Nixon, whose staging included a replica recording studio such as the kind you’d expect to see of a 1930s BBC, complete with sound effects area and sound booth (providing a cameo to long-time backstage hand Dennis Chubb).

The clever use of space also included a corner of a home, where ‘the listener’ Julie Stonestreet was sat throughout, following along intently just as you might imagine someone when radio plays were first broadcast.

 Julie provided the link between actors and audience, and her reactions were humorous to watch. 

The choice to perform this piece as a radio play paid off, with many amusing moments created by ‘sound effects’ crew Angie Burton and Martie Cain.

It was hard to not lose concentration from the storyline as these two were drawing my attention with their comic reactions to mishaps.

Sound was a key factor in building the suspense and foreboding, and there were many instances where I applauded the clever use of props to create sound effects. 

Without the ability to ‘act’ out the scene, each actor had to rely on subtle nuances in the tone and delivery of their lines to portray the story.

John Hammond gave a convincing performance as haunted Saul Hodgkin, the station master who shares the spooky story of the station, and why he will not remain with the passengers for the night while they wait for the next train to come in the morning. 

The passengers were played by Ralph Edermaniger, Glenys Lloyd-Williams, Robert Bingham, Genevieve Dorning, Dianne Aspinall and Kevin Chance. Each of these actors carried the storyline well, with particular skill in keeping up the tension and depicting their character’s traits. 

Supporting the lead cast was Annette Millea, Martin Nickless, Barry Aspinall and Derek Saull, who each portrayed their parts with gusto.

Jane Robert as the studio manager was a nice touch to round off the feeling of being in a real-life recording studio, even listing off the names of the cast at the end of the play similar to the structure of a real radio broadcast. 

I didn’t see the plot twists coming, and very much enjoyed the jump-scares created by aptly used sound effects and visual cues.

This all added to what was ultimately a completely unique theatrical experience - a delight to watch and listen to. 

Bravo to all at BLTC for another stand-out performance.