Spooky entertainment from Eastbourne’s oldest theatre

Ghost tour of the Royal Hippdrome Theatre
Ghost tour of the Royal Hippdrome Theatre

A spooky, entertaining one-hour theatrical tour, The Death and Life of the Hippodrome Theatre, featured resident ghosts and characters from Eastbourne’s oldest theatre’s past telling their stories.

Diny van Kleeff’s excellent script, consisting mainly of nine poems, and a talented cast, which also included Diny, made this Sussex Darkside Productions’ presentation an enthralling experience.

Gladys Lopato, playing music hall male-impersonator Hetty King, was a superb host, using her voice and armography to great effect. But a few other vocals - and lighting - could have been better projected. For example, some of the cast could have been given mics or spoken louder, and held their tea lights up to their faces.

Greg Draven, Jeffrey Bentley-Astor, owner of Sussex Darkside, and Susan Thacker added greatly to the eerie atmosphere. Greg and Jeffrey were well cast as the murdered Stage Manager and Todd Slaughter, an actor with unrestrained vigour and a ‘grave-yard’ chuckle, while Sue was convincing as both a Victorian Woman and Marie Lloyd.

There were also impressive performances from Diny, a tearful wife of the manager who had discovered she was leaving him, and Diny’s daughter Saffron Fielder-van Kleeff, playing the youngest ghost Emily Fogath. ‘Saffi’ was also required to shed tears as she engaged fully with her audience.

Diny’s other daughter, Red, did a great job as tour guide, taking us to where ghosts of performers and employees past would suddenly emerge. By Tony Flood.