The house is now scheduled to be demolished. Anything that might have happened will be wiped clear, soon. We were still able to visit the premises of 139 Copeland Road – and without a shadow of a doubt, something is very, very off at this place.
Mary, a single mother of two, had been living at 139 Copeland Road. She had been a school teacher, a much loved figure in the community. One night in 1974 however, a house fire led to Mary and her two boys burning to their deaths. The bodies were never recovered. Since then, the house has stood empty, partly due to the derelict state, but even more so because of the rumours. The sightings.
When we arrived to the neighbourhood, we were first beckoned to enter the adjoining house, number 137. In no better state than number 139, but at least someone had made a bit of an effort to create a somewhat welcoming vibe. Music was playing, and we were invited to take a look at the different newspaper snippets, photos and documents that were plastered over the living room walls. It was here we met someone tasked with the upkeep and potential sale of the premises. He had become intrigued by the mysteries surrounding Mary’s death, and had taken it upon himself to contact a psychic, who would conduct a séance next door, in order to find out what had happened exactly that tragic night.
Six of us entered the premises of 139 Copeland Road. It was cold, and the interior was only illuminated by three candles on the table, and a single, fairly weak light bulb. Next to the candles, a loaf of bread. Invitations, to beckon the spirits in. And there, sitting at the table was Lesley, the psychic who would be leading the séance. Very softspoken, he comforted us, and explained what exactly he was doing, what was expected from us, what might happen. Open, welcoming attitudes were paramount. The lightbulb was turned off, and by the light of the three flickering candles, we joined hands.
In the next twenty five minutes, we experienced some of the most realistically tense moments I have ever seen. The lighting, the sounds, everything is used with refreshing subtlety, but to a maximum effect. At times, I could swear I saw things, felt presences – I blamed my imagination, because they were just too weird, impossible. Until the others from my group recounted the exact same thing I had just seen or felt. Properly unnerving. I have no idea how some of these things were even possible, and immediately, I was dragged into the experience. A lot of it plays out in utter darkness, with two tiny flashlights as our only light source. We were stranded in the dark at times, huddled together in a corner for safety. Somewhere in the neighbourhood, someone was setting off fireworks, which made us even more confused as to which noises were real. As people in our group started getting really panicky, the vibe turned contagious, and I got quite nervous myself.
In the end, everything got ramped up even more, and our entire group was gasping and screaming, hiding away in a corner, before we escaped number 139 and the door slammed shut behind us.
An amazing production. I’m usually a sceptic towards ghost tours and experiences, as I always fear they might get a bit tacky and floaty. Not the case with 139 Copeland Road, at all. No cheese, just gritty darkness, subtle but amazing effects, and an intense feeling of unease, nervousness and amazement, with perfect performances by the actors, who convincingly brought their parts to life. Like every immersive experience I love, I wish I could have stayed in the story for longer. The end might have been abrupt, and the finale perhaps a little bit on the nose. But, I was completely blown away by the overall experience, and we were still raving about tiny details for long after we had left the show. It’s a shame the place will be torn down, crushing all hope of a re-run. The creative and technical team behind this show, best to keep an eye on them – I’m quite sure this won’t be the last time they will baffle me.