As the audience (and reviewers) are sworn to secrecy about the content of Ghost Stories, this theatrical experience may prove a little tricky to review.
The show was created by horror aficionados Jeremy Dyson and Andy Nyman who were looking to bring the horror they had enjoyed so much on the screen to a theatre. This has been tried before with mixed results – the effective, but dated, Woman In Black is still pulling in the teenagers and tourists in the West End – but I don’t think anything comes close to what Ghost Stories boldly attempts, and mostly pulls off.
So what can we give away? Well the evening opens with a narrator or sorts, first delving in to our relationship with being scared, why are we drawn to something that makes us fearful? It’s an interesting point and one not lost on the packed audience in tonight’s auditorium. We are then ‘treated’ to a few ghost stories.
Without revealing any secrets, the tension is built up beautifully in every short act – pulses quicken, hearts pump and blood pressure definitely rises. The sound and lighting need to be flawless in a show like this which often tricks the eye, diverts attention and creates a shock – and here everything is timed perfectly. The show has apparently been tested and tweaked since its original launch in 2010 and you can certainly tell as it always manages to hold the attention and practically every big ‘scare’ makes its mark.
Watching a live horror show with an audience is a very unusual experience as terrified screams are followed by nervous, perhaps embarrassed laughter but it seems that most ticket holders are willing to join the ride and really get in to the spirit of things. Don’t expect a well-behaved audience though, our lot was a vocal bunch but with this kind of theatre the usual rules of etiquette are pretty much impossible to adhere to.
Ghost Stories offers something completely different for the West End. It offers genuine scares, great set pieces and solid acting throughout. The Arts Theatre is also a perfect venue, an intimate theatre which puts the audience up close and personal with the spooky on-stage scares. For originality and pure entertainment, we hope that Ghost Stories continues to frighten for a long time to come.