HE’S been the master of illusion for more than 35 years, now TV magician Paul Daniels
HE’S been the master of illusion for more than 35 years, now TV magician Paul Daniels has turned his hand to the theatre for a ghost story set at The Mill at Sonning.
Daniels, 76, who lives in Wargrave with his wife and assistant Debbie McGee, has designed the special effects for Dead of Night, which will run at the theatre throughout April.
The play follows a group of actors who arrive at the theatre to find it closed for repairs. Giving an impromptu performance in the bar, the actors soon realise something is amiss, leading them on a eerie journey through the dark corridors.
Audience members will follow the cast around inside the theatre, from the comfort and safety of the newly-refurbished Waterwheel bar to the main auditorium and the dark, unsettling backstage hallways.
Daniels, best known for his 15-year stint on BBC One’s The Paul Daniels Magic Show, still tours around the world and gave his ideas on spooky illusions and props to the theatre, who built them on site.
Daniels said: “I’ve got a head full of ideas for ghost plays and spooky shows. In this particular instance they are making things themselves, I just suggest things if they have the space.
“There’s nothing in this show that you would see in a regular magic show. You only need a few things to make a spooky show, in fact underplay is much better.
“The play starts out as funny and exciting and then becomes quite frightening, it’s got all the elements. I love plays where there’s a twist.”
The theatre has recently undergone a refurbishment including works to the bar and foyer and Daniels praised manager Sally Hughes for using it as an opportunity to stage the play.
He said: “Sally is a great theatre manager, she’s taken what could have been a disastrous situation with the refurbishment of the bar area and all the building work and turned it to their advantage.
“The play has been specially commissioned for it. The audience goes into the bar and then things start to happen. Actors come in to meet the audience and someone starts telling a ghost story.
“You go off on a mini-tour where you see lots of spooky things and then you finish in the theatre itself where it all comes together.
“I go along every time The Mill changes its programme so Debbie and I will definitely be attending.”
l Dead of Night will be performed by Hotspur Theatre Company, with shows from next Saturday (April 11) to Saturday, May 2. Tickets cost £20 and can be bought by calling the box office on 0118 969 6039 or at www.millatsonning.com