REVIEW: Ladies of Spirit is frightfully funny show by Horncastle Theatre Company

If you’re in need of a good laugh – or a good fright – this Halloween, look no further than Horncastle Theatre Company’s spooky new show.

The cast of Ladies of Spirit.
The cast of Ladies of Spirit.

I’ve said on many occasions that our town boasts some incredible acting talent, and this time around it’s the ladies who rightfully take the limelight with the company’s latest brilliant offering – Ladies of Spirit by Georgina Reid.

Set in the 1960s, Gibraltar School for girls was set up by sisters Harriet and Matilda Pye (played by Penny Holland and Anna Maria Vessey respectively), but these formidable ladies are now no longer with us and their ghosts are horrified by how the school is now being run in their absence.

The long-suffering teachers – ditzy secretary Sally (Natasha Lowes) elderly Miss Maudsley (Kath Thomas), Miss Cox (an excellent Lynne Hawkins in her stage debut) and Mrs Thorpe (Gail Hinkins) – now have their lives made miserable not only by their pupils, but also by the present headmistress, Miss Rowe (Sheena Liversidge), and the brown-nosing Miss Danvers (Adele Simpson).

And so the two Miss Pyes decide they are going to “help” set things right again.

Sheena is simply magnificent as the nasty, snobby, rigid Rowe whose mere presence on stage was enough to make this reviewer quake in her boots and wish for her swift disposal all at the same time – especially her awful treatment of parent Mrs Emmett (Jane Whitlock, who also does brilliantly in her stage debut).

Each of the teachers bring their own characters to life beautifully, and their rapport between actors very much gives the feeling that they are all soldiers in the trenches together.

Teachers in the audience will laugh wrly at Rowe’s “ludicrous” suggestion that the teachers do their marking at home or during their breaks instead of during their free periods, as well as her frittering school money away on trampolines for the gym instead of qualified teachers.

Our two residents ghosts play beautifully off each other, and Hatty’s acerbic wit bounces brilliantly off Matty’s more upbeat demeanour and you feel for their plight as they try to navigate their new status as ghosts and trying to figure out how “well-bred” ghosts should haunt, as well as stopping the dastardly Miss Rowe from running their beloved school into the ground.

The set was also fantastic with excellent attention to detail, including old school photos from the cast themselves and filled-out timetables on the walls.

But do they manage to haunt the school “properly”? Does Miss Rowe finally get a taste of her own medicine? And just where is Schneswig-Hüfstein? You’ll have to buy tickets to find out – and you won’t regret it, Ladies of Spirit is yet another triumph from Horncastle Theatre Company.

Ladies of Spirit opens tomorrow (Wednesday) and runs until Saturday.

Tickets are £8, or £7 for concessions, and are available at https://www.horncastletheatre.co.uk/book-tickets/