The death of the American dream

The Shining: The Chine Hotel, Boscombe. (Thurday 9th February, 2017).

Pioneering theatre director David Glass didn’t hesitate when he was offered the chance to use Boscombe’s Chine Hotel to stage a special production of The Shining.

“I immediately saw its potential,” he says. And no wonder. The Chine, which sits high above Boscombe Gardens, bears an uncanny resemblance to The Overlook Hotel in Stanley Kubrick’s classic 1980 film version of Stephen King’s game-changer of a horror story. Like its fictional counterpart it is even closed for the winter.

 Thanks to Glass and an inspired team from the Arts University Bournemouth the next week finds audiences being led twice nightly around The Chine’s historic rooms as the murderous tale of winter caretaker Jack Torrence, haunted, twisted and gradually turned into a crazed axeman by demons from the past, unfolds.

I joined the audience for last night’s opening performance. It was an extraordinary and immersive experience with brilliant use of sound, light, multiple actors and a variety of in-house locations bringing the story of The Shining to graphic and satisfyingly unsettling life.

Excellent performances, courageous direction and the atmosphere of The Chine itself succeeded in doing the near-impossible by getting to the essence of King’s novel with a theatrical flashback to Kubrick’s movie. Carefully edited, the high-points of the film’s dialogue remain intact although some have been gently tweaked to enhance the tension and inject moments of dark humour.

Anyone who loved the movie with Jack Nicholson and Shelley Duval will be pleasantly surprised. And just in case you’re wondering whether Nicholson’s classic “Here’s Johnny” scene is re-enacted. Let’s just leave it with the fact that I  can’t say that doors weren’t harmed in the course of the production.

Of course The Shining offers much more than the gore at the core of the story. It is above all a sad comment on the death of the American dream torn to shreds by misogyny, racism and paranoia. Never in the 40 years of its existence has this tale been as relevant as it is today.  

*The Shining plays The Chine Hotel in Boscombe Spa Road, Bournemouth at 6.30pm and 9.00pm every night except Sunday (12th Feb)  until  Saturday 18th February.

Jeremy Miles

Author: Jeremy Miles

Writer, journalist, photographer, arts and theatre critic and occasional art historian.

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