Wickies: The Vanishing Men of Eilean Mor is a scary ghost story about three men who go missing from a lighthouse. The audience quickly learn a lot about the solitary life of lighthouse keepers and the woeful tales of their predecessors. The tale is dramatic, suspenseful, and scary. The characters are not wholly trustworthy and doubt each other; this gives the audience the opportunity to solve the mystery of what happened to the Wickies.

Credit: Pamela Raith

Paul Morrissey has made a mystery out of history. His writing is dynamic, and the overall story is entrancing. The sombre mood of the story is lifted with well-placed moments of comedy that do not interrupt the suspense and horror elements of the show. Shilpa T-Hyland’s direction contains magical elements and ensures the actors fully utilise the staging and the set to create illusions. At one point an actor disappears in one spot and reappears impossibly quickly in another spot. It’s these elements that elevate the show and open up Wickies’ appeal to a wider audience. 

All the acting in the show was outstanding, and I was completely drawn into the creepy ghost story. Graeme Dalling plays the cold yet funny Donald McArthur who sets the scene sharing ghost stories with newbie Thomas Marshall. Jamie Quinn is dynamic and engaging as Thomas: he cleverly holds the audience’s attention as he discovers the lights houses dark history. Ewan Steward plays a fatherly but distant James Ducat as authoritative yet kind. All three actors have the challenge of creating a character that had not only lived a solitary life but was also distinctly different from their other Wickies. I enjoyed the contrast of the characters created and the shifts between the Wickies and the investigators. 

Credit: Pamela Raith

The lighting and music brings the whole play together. From when you enter the room, the eerie atmosphere is built with the background track. The fisherman’s singing does not only sound beautiful but broke and created tension during different scenes of the play. The singing adds a further dimension to the play and helps to quickly set the scene for the audience. 

The Wickies lighthouse, created by Zoe Hurwitz, uses a round stage with a curved wall to bring to life the lighthouse. Most of the action takes place within the kitchen, but an upstairs landing is cleverly used to show Thomas’s moments of contemplation.  Sometimes I got a little lost in the timeline of the show when it jumped between the Wickies and the investigators. In a larger space this would be easier to remark and separate out, or perhaps projections could help. Hopefully in time viewers will benefit from a physical programme. However, Bethany Gupwell’s lighting design is dramatic and effective. The spotlight and stairs are resourcefully used to represent the lighthouse, and somehow the scene is set without using obvious wave projections or noises. One moment with a search light stands out as particularly poignant and changes the tempo of the show.

Credit: Pamela Raith

Overall I’d highly recommend seeing Wickies: The Vanishing men of Eilean Mor if you love a spooky but not gruesome story filled with suspense, drama, and fantastic acting. It plays until the 31st of December in The Park Theatre – a thoroughly enjoyable winter ghost story that is not to be missed.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

{🎟 AD – PR invite – Tickets were gifted in exchange for an honest review}

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