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Audio Drama Review


The Ghost Train


Starring: Julia Burchell, James McNicholas and Katy Manning
Fantom Films
RRP: £12.99
ISBN: 978 1 906263 50 8
Available 10 October 2010

Thanks to the mindless actions of Teddy Deakin, a group of mismatched rail passengers find themselves stranded in a dark and isolated station, having missed the last connection of the night. Tales of superstition prevail as the local station master is unable to persuade them to leave. He finally reveals twenty years ago, that very night, a train crashed leaving a number of passengers dead. Legend has it, that the line is still haunted by the train as it relives its final terrifying moments roaring through the station to its demise. The passengers begin to panic as the body of the station master is found on the platform, and a mysterious young lady arrives, foretelling the oncoming of The Ghost Train...

The Ghost Train is based on Arnold Ridley's (best known today for playing Private Godfrey in Dad's Army) 1923 three-act play.

Now, not being familiar with the play, I'm not sure how this production compares to the stage version. Obviously, as this is only an audio production, the telling of the story could get a bit confusing if the voices aren't distinguishable from each other. So here we have accents and speech impediments acting as guides to who is talking. While this does help the listener identify each character quickly, it also becomes incredibly distracting.

On the whole the acting wasn't that impressive either. In fact, the only person whose character I believed in was Katy Manning as Miss Bourne. Everyone else seems to over act for the majority of the time. In addition, not only is James McNicholas's over enforced speech impediment a pain, but his general nature is annoying too. Whether this is taken from the original is unclear, but given the play's revelations I found it a strange directional choice.

Likewise, the station master's insistence in saying: "Bain't" (meaning "be not") all the time was annoying, but then maybe in 1920s England people in Cornwall really did say that all the time.

To be fair the original source material still stands up today as an interesting mystery story. I was half expecting the passengers to be the dead spirits of the the crashed train, which would probably have been original in the '20s, but has been done to death (if you'll excuse the pun) in recent years. While this is entertaining enough, it's just a shame that the overacting spoils what is a good mystery.


Darren Rea

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