THE Legend of Sleepy Hollow arrived at Darlington Hippodrome last night.

Best known for the 1999 Tim Burton film, the tale of the Headless Horseman and the residents of a small, creepy village is told by Tilted Wig Productions.

Outside Sleepy Hollow, a sign states: “Don’t pass by. Stay Forever.” which set the tone for a pretty creepy evening.

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The Northern Echo: Rose Quentin and Tommy Sim'aan. Picture: CRAIG SUGDENRose Quentin and Tommy Sim'aan. Picture: CRAIG SUGDEN

Directed by Jake Smith and written by Philip Meeks, this was an unusual telling of the story including new characters and lots of short and snappy scenes.

Starring Sam Jackson as Ichabod Crane (Skins, The Syndicate, Beautiful Thing), Rose Quentin as Katrina Van Tassel (Grand Hotel, Peter Pan, Doc Martin), Wendi Peters as Mariette Papenfuss (Coronation Street, The Clockmaster’s Daughter, Salad Days), Lewis Cope as Brom ‘Bones’ Van Brunt (Hetty Feather, Witness For The Prosecution, Billy Elliot), Tommy Sim’aan as Joost De Groot (As You Like It, The History Boys, Earthquakes in London) and Bill Ward as Baltus Van Tassel (Coronation Street, Spamalot, Japes).

The Northern Echo: Bill Ward as Baltus Van Tassel. Picture: CRAIG SUGDENBill Ward as Baltus Van Tassel. Picture: CRAIG SUGDEN

The set design by Amy Watts included dry ice, lanterns and of course, the massive scary tree in the corner which contributed nicely to the atmosphere and set the scene for the gothic tale.

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Truer to Irving Washington’s original short story than Tim Burton’s adaptation, the protagonist, Ichabod Crane, remains a schoolmaster. 

In the original 40 page story, the Headless Horseman only appears on about five of them, which was reflected in this adaptation.

The Northern Echo: The Headless Horseman of Sleepy Hollow. Picture: CRAIG SUGDENThe Headless Horseman of Sleepy Hollow. Picture: CRAIG SUGDEN

The aforementioned horseman didn’t appear much but when he did, he looked pretty spectacular and would have scared some children.

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There were short scenes in the first act that were a little hard to follow and although I was a bit confused about the sudden character changes, it was an enjoyable show.

The special effects were quite something and the sound designer, Sam Glossop, did a great job with the creepy-sounding children's voices and Mariette's slightly annoying parrot.

The Northern Echo: Coronation Street's Wendi Peters as Mariette Papenfuss. Picture: CRAIG SUGDENCoronation Street's Wendi Peters as Mariette Papenfuss. Picture: CRAIG SUGDEN

The Wendigo was creepy and the use of shadow theatre added to the already eerie atmosphere.

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Sam Jackson’s characterisation of Ichabod Crane was refreshingly different to the way that Johnny Depp played him, however, there were times when Sam's projection took a dive and some lines were lost on me.

Personally, I thought that Rose Quentin's portrayal of Katrina stole the show from the off.

This show would appeal to those into all things gothic and creepy.

Maybe leave the kids at home for this one as this production tells the story without the 'Hollywood shine' of the Tim Burton adaptation.

The show is at Darlington Hippodrome until November 20 and tickets are available here.


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