Repeat Signal

Tatty Hennessy
The November Club with Meerkat Films
Woodhorn Colliery Museum, Ashington, Northumberland

Repeat Signal

The November Club has produced site-specific work in a wide range of venues, from the streets of Morpeth to the Lit and Phil in Newcastle, from Wallington Hall (National Trust) to village halls and even the auction mart at Hexham. Its subject matter is mainly rural Northumberland, its history and myths.

Repeat Signal is set in one of the winding rooms at Woodhorn Colliery in Ashington, now the Woodhorn Colliery Museum where, even though the museum is closed, two teenagers get inside.

Bibi (Sulin Hasso) hasn’t long been in Ashington and is soon to go to Newcastle to study film. She takes her phone everywhere so she can make videos of her new home and send them to her brother. She’s been videoing everything—the coats, the castles, the scenery—and now her new friend, local lad, perhaps even a bit of a Jack the Lad, Lucas (Jake Jarratt), has brought her to Woodhorn to see real North East history. But Bibi can’t believe this is a museum. Museums, she says, are full of beautiful, ancient statues, pictures and such things.

But there are pictures here, Lucas tells her. There’s one of his grandad—although he was cropped out of the pic and all you can see is one of his feet.

But something strange is going on, and it’s not the ghost of the headless cyclist Lucas’s mate Eddie claims to have seen. Might it be the ghost of an old onsetter, communicating with the surface by sending signals up the shaft?

Possibly. Possibly not.

There’s a certain ambiguity which adds a little frisson to the situation: just the noises of an empty building at night or is there really a ghost in the machine?

In just 30 minutes, we see the developing relationship between two young people of different cultures, we see them learning about each other and about themselves, and at the same time we get a sense—a taste even—of the history of the place. A gentle, sympathetic portrayal of what is essentially the story of an unexpected couple in an unexpected place, spiced with just a suggestion of what might be the supernatural.

Well worth 30 minutes of your time—and it’s free, although you are asked to make a donation.

Reviewer: Peter Lathan