Haunting Julia: Synopsis

Cast: 3 male (+ 1 female pre-recorded voice)
Running time (approximate): 1 hour 50 minutes (Haunting Julia is not intended to have an interval)
Acting edition: Haunting Julia is published as part of the collection Alan Ayckbourn: Plays 3 by Faber

Julia Lukin was a musical prodigy who committed suicide 12 years earlier. Her father Joe has never come to terms with her death and in the Julia Larkin Centre For Performing Studies - formerly the building where Julia lived as a student - he hopes to discover what happened by meeting with a psychic, Ken, and Julia’s boyfriend, Andy, who was the last person to see her alive.

The men meet in Julia’s preserved bedroom and Joe reveals that he believes Julia is trying to contact him; haunting him in order to explain what happened. Between the three men, the story of Julia’s life and death is gradually revealed - often at odds with what each man believes he knew.

Julia had ultimately been unable to cope with the pressures of both her father and her overwhelming musical gift. Joe, of course, is unwilling to accept his love could ever have led to Julia’s suicide, while Andy is still guilt-ridden about whether he could have prevented the tragedy had he not broken up with her the night of her death.

Ken attempts to contact Julia, but is revealed to be a hoax when he picks up Julia’s teddy-bear to receive a message. The bear is a plant, the original long since lost. Ken reveals he has waited many years to meet Joe to explain he knew Julia; that he was the caretaker of the building and she would come and find refuge in his and his wife’s normal life and that, contrary to what may have been said, Julia told him at the end she loved her father.

Ken is actually more aware of what is happening than the others credit him for though and as each of the men’s feelings and recollections come to light, Ken believes Julia is poised to appear. A door onto what should be a brick wall blows open; impossibly the original corridor is present. Julia manifests herself, visible only to Joe, although the room is wrecked by an eerie wind and the bed on which she died begins to bleed. Joe understands what Julia has endured and that she is not at peace; he is haunting her. In a final moment of understanding and love, Joe lets his daughter go.

Copyright: Simon Murgatroyd. Please do not reproduce without permission of the copyright holder.