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Edinburgh Fringe 2023

The Ghost of a Smile

Genre: Drama, Theatre

Venue: The Space @Surgeon's Hall


Low Down

In “The Chair” audiences can expect a short ghostly tale about Tom Smart, seeking refuge in a roadside inn. There are  mysteries and spooky goings on, all led by Nicholas Collett’s transformative acting. This 35-minute Dickensian narrative, infused with impeccable lighting, sound, and a touch of humour, invites viewers to muse on an enchanting, chilling yet charming tale.


In the presentation of “The Chair” from The Pickwick Papers, audiences are introduced to the captivating narrative of Tom Smart. Seeking shelter from a storm he finds himself in a roadside inn and soon he is sat by a crackling fire with hot punch for refreshment. Before long he retires to his room for the night with a large, welcoming bed and a mysterious chair.

The atmosphere of this story is vividly portrayed, thanks in large part to the acting skills of Nicholas Collett. Collett seamlessly transitions into roles as varied as the maid, the widow, and an elderly and wizened piece of furniture. The performance is assured and engaging throughout.

The production doesn’t skimp on the atmospheric details, either. Lighting and sound effects are used well to craft various scenes – a storm brewing, a warm fireplace, and a bedroom emanating ghostly vibes. Gavin Robertson’s adaptation and direction delivers an engaging narrative supported by fast-paced scene changes and the odd sprinkle of humour.

“The Chair” is a contemplative, gentle ghostly tale that prompts its audience to ponder a whimsical idea: if our furniture could converse, what tales would they tell? Perhaps we’d regard them with a bit more reverence, if only we knew.

The storytelling session unfolds at 13:05 in Surgeon’s Hall and provides a solid 35 minutes of intrigue and entertainment. While “The Chair” is one half of the ghostly offerings, with “The Ghosts of the Mail” being presented on alternate days, some might wish for both tales to be encapsulated within an hour. Yet, in true Dickensian fashion, there’s something tantalising about being left yearning for more, lured back for another episode of ghostly goings on. This is well worth seeing and will provide a short, spooky, highly entertaining diversion for those looking to take a step back in time and immerse themselves in the realm of the supernatural.