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The Nag's Head | Park Theatre

People love pubs. But do people love pubs with creepy devil pictures, a history of driving their landlords mad and a mysterious smell emanating from the basement? Come to The Nag’s Head, conveniently located within Park Theatre in North London, and find out.

Make It Beautiful Theatre Company’s production of The Nag’s Head, directed by Alice Chambers, is part ghost story, part family drama, part biting satire on the demise of independent pubs in the face of large chains, and in truth it does better at the latter two of these three elements. While there is some success in the spooky scenes, this is a play which leans much more heavily into the comedy side of horror comedy.

The play opens with three siblings attending the wake of their recently deceased father in the family pub, The Nag’s Head. Jack (Felix Grainger) has stayed in the village of Shireshire looking after their father and feels, as he tells his siblings, like the only one who cares about keeping the family together. Sarah (Cara Steele) is a wannabe entrepreneur with a string of progressively more ridiculous business ideas, and Connor (Gabriel Fogarty-Graveson) is the provocative brother struggling to admit that he really doesn’t have much going on in his life.

The three hatch a plan to restore The Nag’s Head to its former glory (or at least to make it a pub someone might want to drink in), while a mysterious devil picture delivered at midnight from an unknown source proves initially lucrative but will later be their downfall.

Felix Grainger and Gabriel Fogarty-Graveson’s witty script perfectly captured the sibling dynamics, the childish behaviour which adults often revert to when back in the family home, and provoked countless laughs from the audience, although the comedy descended at times almost into farce, particularly in the second half.

There are strong performances from all three actors, with each of them showing excellent comic timing and physicality during the piece. The chemistry between the three is also unmistakeable, making them fully believable as bickering siblings.

With a cast of only three, they are each required to take on other smaller roles alongside their main characters and they shift in and out of these parts with ease, particularly Fogarty-Graveson, who has the largest repertoire of the three. Grainger’s eccentric ghost hunter, Dr Geoffrey Host (yes there is is a pun in that name), is also a standout, as is Steele’s portrayal of pub regular Julie. The scenes are punctuated by music from folk band Good Habits, which helps to set the rural pub scene, while lighting from Beril Yavuz adds drama at crucial moments,

The play suffers from some uneven pacing, and loses its way a little in the second half, but comes back together by its climax, returning to its main strength in representing sibling dynamics and throwing a surprise twist in before the lights go up.

Clever, thought-provoking and very, very funny, The Nag’s Head is well worth a watch if you are in need of an alternative ghost story this spooky season. The Nag’s Head runs at Park Theatre until 28 October. For more information and tickets, you can follow the link here.


AD | gifted tickets in return for an honest review | Photography by Alice Chambers 


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