Catherine Tate and David Threlfall will star in The Enfield Haunting, a new play based on one of the most famous poltergeist events in the world.
Written by Paul Unwin, and directed by Angus Jackson, The Enfield Haunting will play at Brighton Theatre Royal and Richmond Theatre, before moving to The Ambassadors Theatre in London for a limited West End season from 30 November 2023 until 2 March 2024.
Catherine Tate, who is renowned for her TV, film and theatre work, including her current BBC series Queen of Oz, The Catherine Tate Show and Donna Noble in Doctor Who alongside David Tennant, will play Peggy Hodgson, a single mother who tries to protect her three children from something that is incomprehensible and deeply disturbing.
Catherine said: “I’m thrilled to be part of The Enfield Haunting and can’t wait to start working with the first-class creative team and the brilliant David Threlfall.”
David Threlfall, who played Frank Gallagher in the highly acclaimed TV series Shameless, is an Associate Artist of the Royal Shakespeare Company (he played Don Quixote in the RSC’s production of and last year was nominated for a Tony Award for his role in Martin McDonagh’s The Hangman, plays Maurice Grosse, a ghost hunter.
David said: “I’m delighted to be reuniting with director Angus Jackson and working for the first time with the amazing Catherine Tate on Paul Unwin’s version of the UK’s most famous incident of psychological inhabitation, The Enfield Haunting, in 1977.”
The Hodgson’s had no idea what a poltergeist was when, in the summer of 1977, furniture and toys started moving of their own accord. They were an ordinary, working-class family, who lived in a North London council house at 284 Green Street, Enfield, but for the next eighteen months became the centre of one of the most famous poltergeist events in the world.
Janet, the possessed sixteen-year-old, was nearly pulled out of a window. The local ‘lolly pop lady’ saw her floating six feet in the air in an upstairs room and Janet was found fast asleep in a neighbours’ bed. There are tapes of Janet growling for hours in a voice that doctors said would destroy a sixteen-year-old girl’s vocal cords after a few minutes.
Paul Unwin’s new play is the story of one night in the spring of 1978 when events were approaching a climax. Based on the first-hand accounts of one the one the ghost hunters, The Enfield Haunting is the true story of what happened when Peggy Hodgson tries to protect her three children from something that is incomprehensible, deeply disturbing and is hurtling to a terrifying conclusion.
Maurice Grosse was one of the ghost hunters. A kind and protective man, he was determined to help the Hodgson’s but as the night unfolds it slowly becomes clear that he is searching for something that he is convinced that only Janet can help him find.
Writer Paul Unwin said: “Before Guy Lyon Playfair the poltergeist expert died in 2018, I spent a long afternoon with him in his basement flat in Earls Court. He and Maurice Grosse had spent months with the Hodgson family trying to protect them, but also make sense of what was going on. What Guy told me was terrifying. So much of what appears to have happened was impossible to fake and yet at the centre of the whole thing were real people trying to make sense of their lives. The Enfield Haunting is a psychological ghost story. It is a ghost story for now.”
Paul Unwin co-created the world’s longest running medical drama, Casualty (alongside Jeremy Brock). He has directed extensively for TV, including, Shameless, Five Little Pigs, Messiah, Combat Hospital and Breathless. As a theatre director his work includes: Arthur Miller’s The Man Who had all the Luck at Bristol Old Vic (where he was Artistic Director) and the Young Vic, and the Misanthrope for Bristol Old Vic and the National Theatre. His other plays include This Much is True and The Promise. His films include The American and Elijah.
Further cast and creatives will be announced in due course.
The Enfield Haunting is at
Ambassadors Theatre from Thu 30 Nov 2023 to Sat 2 Mar 2024
Richmond Theatre from Tuesday 21st November 2023 to Saturday 25th November 2023.
Theatre Royal Brighton from Tuesday 14th November 2023 to Saturday 18th November 2023.