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Bill Ward as Baultus Van Tassel and Wendi Peters as Widow Mariette Papenfuss,. Picture: Craig Sugden

The Legend of Sleepy Hollow

Malvern Theatres.

***

Coronation Street stars Wendi Peters and Bill Ward lead Philip Meeks’ adaptation of The Legend of Sleepy Hollow this week at Malvern Theatres through a fog of dry ice and startling bright lights.

Just as the clocks go back and Halloween pumpkins rot on darkened doorsteps, we delve into a convoluted tale of school teacher Ichabod Crane, (Sam Jackson), as he arrives and becomes embroiled into the strange traditions at Sleepy Hollow.

As confusion grips the audience and heads spin due to an abundance of dialogue, Ichabod is raped of his dignity by Katrina Van Tassel, (Rose Quentin), and Brom Van Brunt, (Lewis Cope), in an attempt to unnerve and lay bare the superstitious secrets of the hamlet.

After much doubling back and changing rein Baultus Van Tassel, (Bill Ward), Joost De Groot, (Tommy Sim’aan) and Widow Mariette Papenfuss, (Wendi Peters), gallop the tale diagonally around the darkened stage bobbing for a scare but drowning in accented discourse.

Attacking the script with headless dolls, pink weed, puckwudgies and whippersnaps, are all monstrous idioms explained in the wonderfully designed programme but dare you meet the Wendigo?

American author Washington Irving put pen to paper and brought the headless horseman to life, so to speak, whilst living not far from here in The Jewellery Quarter, Birmingham, in the early 19th Century, first published in 1819 to be precise.

The Sketch Book of Geoffrey Crayon, Gent included The Legend of Sleepy Hollow and Rip Van Winkle and while Irving was supposed to be helping build the family business he instead was busy inspiring the likes of Charles Dickens and Walter Scott. Irving was buried under a simple headstone at Sleepy Hollow cemetery in New York on December 1st 1859.

Silhouetted against the hellish legend were moments of spine tingling unease and illusion enhanced by Filipe J. Carvalho, however less is more.

Tilted Wig, Malvern Theatres and Churchill Theatre presents, The Legend of Sleepy Hollow on at Malvern Festival Theatre until Saturday November 6th. Tickets are available from the Box Office on 01684 892277 or online at malvern-theatres.co.uk.

Emma Trimble

O2-11-21

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