It’s almost a stereotype: the British and their ghost stories. Ghosts in ancient residences, prisons, ruined castles… Without forgetting the ghosts that legend places as tenants of ancient theaters. A short gallery of these frightening subjects can be found in an article published by an old English magazine. It’s about very noble ghosts, loyal theater dwellers. Disturbing anecdotes are told about them to read between a shiver and a smile, to enter a Halloween atmosphere that goes on over the years and lasts all year round.
“One morning the cleaning lady of the Theater Royal, Drury Lane, was surprised to see a man dressed in Regency style staring at the empty stage. When he approached him to ask who he was and what he wanted, he “vanished” “… And it is no wonder:” it seems perfectly normal that the oldest London theater has its own ghost – and that of Drury Lane is a handsome man wearing a long gray coat, boots, tricorn, and carries the sword. He is known – and it is almost obvious to a ghost – by the name of “Man in Gray”. He preferably attends the first gallery. The actors, the cleaners and even the public have seen it, but only at the matinees ».
Drury Lane has no monopoly on ghosts. “Less well known is perhaps the ghost of the Duke of York in St. Martin’s Lane.” Where, “in the Royal Room the ghost of Vi Melnotte was seen by a four-year-old boy”. Vi Melnotte was «the wife of the man who inaugurated the theater in 1892 and of which she was the manager. Her specter has often been seen wandering among the spectators ». A work-addicted spectrum? The Theater Royal in Haymarket, in turn, ‘boasts at least two ghosts – actors, one of whom has been heard repeating lines in a dressing room. It is said to be the ghost of John Buckstone, a popular comedian of the last century “who appears to have appeared on stage in” a sold out evening “. The magazine reports: “The specter appeared behind actor Michael Flanders […] it was season 63-64 and the company was engaged in a play. Many witnesses who saw the figure of a man wrapped in a long coat ». Long coats are part of the habit of the dress code of every self-respecting theatrical ghost. “Many thought he was a drifter or a drunk, but by the time the assistant director approached him, he was already gone. There was talk of Buckstone’s ghost then, but an elderly actor objected: “It can’t be Buckstone because he was an intransigent in terms of professional ethics and would never, ever appear on stage during the performance of a company that was not his. ! ”» In short, class is not water!
A Bath «l’incantevole Theatre Royal […] it is frequented by a tall and elegant lady in gray who with a majestic step crosses the audience and sits on a stage to watch the show. In Brighton, on the other hand, a figure in Georgian costume appears at the rehearsals shrouded in pale light ». The New Theater in Cardiff enjoys the “stable ghost” of an elderly lady present on the royal box or in the stalls. “The director of the theater said that many years ago a woman was found dead in the same box.” Could the passing be caused by the spectacle that the lady witnessed? All exquisitely British, under the sign of good-natured sympathy for the past. The magazine claims that “ghosts certainly look at home in old theaters.” And he concludes: “many of them are nice and harmless”.