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Phantom menace

PUBLISHED: 14:42 01 September 2009 | UPDATED: 13:04 11 August 2010

Keith Drinkel as the signalman

Keith Drinkel as the signalman

A CHILLING Victorian tale about a mysterious apparition by a railway tunnel is coming to the Greenwich Theatre. Charles Dickens s classic short story, The Signalman, is being brought to the stage by Rumpus Theatre Company for a four-day run next week. The

A CHILLING Victorian tale about a mysterious apparition by a railway tunnel is coming to the Greenwich Theatre.

Charles Dickens's classic short story, The Signalman, is being brought to the stage by Rumpus Theatre Company for a four-day run next week.

The eerie tale begins with a young student who chances upon a railway cutting, and meets a terrified signalman.

The elderly fellow tells the student he is haunted by a ghostly figure, whose two appearances by the tunnel have been foreshadowed by terrible disasters - a deadly train crash, and the death of a beautiful woman on a passing train.

As the phantom reveals itself once more, the signalman waits in dread for the next tragic event.

The play's writer and director, John Goodrum, who is taking the production on tour across the country, says Dickens's tale has all the ingredients of a fantastic ghost story.

"It's got steam trains and Victorian ghosts, and a real sense of gritty realism. It's good gothic horror, which lots of people enjoy" he declares.

To make the short story work on stage, John developed the original characters and the plot.

"In Dickens's story, the man who comes across the signalman is a nameless narrator. I've made him a young student and given him a lot more depth. I've added a few other bits to the story as well."

Taking on the role of the signalman is Keith Drinkel, who recently appeared in Coronation Street, and who has played characters in various TV shows, including Doctor Who and A Family at War.

"Keith is perfect for a Dickensian character. He's one of the old school actors with this wonderful rich voice. He's great as the signalman" adds John.

Stepping into the shoes of the young student is Mark Homer, best known as Tony Hills in TV soap EastEnders.

The Rumpus Theatre Company puts on a range of plays, but John says their darker productions, including The Ripper Files and Dracula's Guest, draw the biggest crowds, adding: "I think people like to be scared."

The Signalman is on at The Greenwich Theatre, Crooms Hill, Greenwich, from Wednesday, September 2 to Saturday, September 5.

Tickets cost from £10. Call the box office on 020 8858 7755.


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