Three Chairs and a Hat
Haunted, written and performed by Nia Williams, is a deeply creepy study of isolation and obsession.
Racheal (sole performer Nia Williams) has several physical and mental health issues—myopia and anxiety-induced asthma and her obsessive personality makes her intolerant of workmates and, well, anyone really. But Racheal makes an exception for her brother Richard and, when his relationship breaks down, helps him move to a new property to get over the trauma. However, Racheal experiences things that make her believe she may not be alone in the house.
Haunted is a strong story with a credible twist. The most striking feature is, however, how Williams exploits the opportunities available via the Internet to develop a mysterious atmosphere that makes the play so effective. Haunted would not have worked as well on stage—there would have been no possibility of replicating the odd camera angles and intense close-ups required to capture Racheal’s confused state of mind.
On occasion, Williams behaves like a child with a new toy and cannot resist pushing the technology to the limits with an effort to visually replicate the effects of a migraine. Yet, the refreshing willingness to trust the audience to pick up clues from visual images (spots of blood on fingertips) rather than from the script demonstrates how online plays can be just as powerful as those produced on stage.
Williams does not depend solely on technological innovations—she cheerfully employs well-worn horror standards such as unexpected loud noises to shock the audience. A strong script and imaginative such of technology makes Haunted compelling viewing.
Reviewer: David Cunningham