This review will be no different, but what I hope this review does that others out there do not, is give you a flavour of what an absolutely electric and terrifying event Ghost Stories really is. I use the word ‘event’ because that is exactly what this experience is. It is not merely an evening’s entertainment at the theatre. This show could change your life. For starters, I now can’t send a text message without doing a fluttering motion with my phone after pressing ‘send.’
From the above introduction, you will gather that this review gives a resounding verdict of “Why are you still reading this? Go see the show already!” This could be read as the shortest review ever. However, you should read on to find out ‘why’ you should go and experience the show.
Ghost Stories comes with the health warning that it contains moments of extreme shock and tension, and those of a nervous disposition should consider their health before attending. Such ‘warnings’ have been proclaimed for many a horror production – “Keep telling yourself it’s only a movie!”, “Do you dare read this book?” and so forth – all part of the marketing ploy. The difference here is that these guys really mean it!
The Arts Theatre is nicely tucked away behind Leicester Square tube station, and walking inside you are greeted with a warm atmosphere. With every step you take down to the stalls, that atmosphere quickly changes. The lighting gets darker, the décor changes dramatically, and the uneasy echoing sound of dripping water accompanied by a constant, low rumbling noise makes you wonder whether you should turn around and head back up the stairs.
The theatre staff at the entrance to the auditorium explain that anyone leaving the stalls during the performance, will not be granted re-entry. Really? People get so disturbed that they walk out during the performance? Yes. Yes they do. The night I attended, I saw the first person leave around fifteen minutes in, and it didn’t look like they particularly wanted to return to their seat anytime soon.
Back to the entrance of the auditorium – Walking beyond this point to your seat, you notice random numbers scrawled in chalk on the walls and hazard warning tape and lights draped across sections of the theatre itself. You take your seat in the intimate theatre and are faced with an intimidating Safety Curtain – and may I just add that ‘safety curtain’ should be taken quite literally, here.
The show starts with a bang as we receive a lecture on ghosts and the supernatural by a friendly parapsychologist – brilliantly played by Paul Kemp. Following this, he shares with us three cases of the paranormal by playing the openings to witness interviews on a Dictaphone, before the remainder of each story is enacted on stage.
The first story involves a night-watchman – Philip Whitchurch – on a lonely shift; the second a young man without a driving license – Chris Levens – driving home through the woods late at night; and the third about an arrogant city yuppie – Gary Shelford – who appears to be having some bizarre experiences in the nursery of his home.
Throughout these three tales – in addition to the terrifying, nerve-racking and heart-in-mouth moments – you are witness to ingenious set design, lighting and sound, and performances that leave you in awe. There were many moments where – amongst all the screaming around me – I thought, “How did they do that?” It is one thing witnessing special effects in a big-budget horror film that has the benefit of the editing suite, but it’s quite something else when they are unfolding in front of your very eyes live on stage. The intimate setting of the theatre really does make the audience feel a part of the act – God bless those sitting in the front row! As if this is not terrifyingly involving enough, through the magic of theatre (I don’t know what else to call it!) the audience is sucked into the scene even further by having other senses terrorised during the production. This is so much more than what you see and hear.
By the time you reach the climax of the play and the story has reached its nerve-jangling conclusion, you realise that your experience of this show began long before the first line of dialogue was delivered on-stage. Everything you see and hear as you take your seat is terrifyingly related to the culmination of the previous nerve-shredding 80 minutes.
The sense of relief amongst the audience at the end of the performance, is testament to the writing genius of Messrs Dyson and Nyman (whose love of ghostly tales is clear to see), the brilliant cast whose performances are faultless in making you laugh and scream pretty much when they please, and the magicians working hard behind the scenes to deliver the shocks and scares with precision.
Walking back up those stairs to reach the exit of the Arts Theatre, it is clear that your legs are considerably weaker than they were going down them. It is only when you stand on the pavement outside and survey the amount of shaking and nervously-laughing patrons, do you realise what a truly thrilling experience this was.
You have been warned.
Review: Ghost Stories
By Andreas Charalambous - 8th April 2014
For those who are passionate about the horror genre in all its guises, you will surely be aware of the return of Ghost Stories to London theatre earlier this year. I have previously had the pleasure of speaking exclusively to the writers of the show – Andy Nyman and Jeremy Dyson – regarding both the show’s return, and other horror projects that they were involved with. This article follows from my finally getting the opportunity to watch the new run of Ghost Stories at the Arts Theatre.
This is truly a unique show in that despite multiple-hundreds of thousands of viewers having experienced the show both in the UK and abroad, in the age of information being a ‘google’ away from your fingertips, the audience holds true to its word, and keeps the secret of the show.
Tickets & Info
13 February - Saturday 24 May 2014
Tuesday – Friday at 8pm
Saturday at 5pm and 8pm
Sunday at 4pm and 7pm
PREVIEWS: 13 FEB –25 FEB £10 OFF*
Tues - Thurs: £49.50, £39.50, £35, £25
Fri evening, Sat matinee, Sat evening: £55, £45.00, £39, £25
Sunday matinee, Sunday evening: £49.50, £39.50, £35, £25
*Excludes £25 tickets
BOOK BY PHONE ON: 020 7836 8463
(Monday- Saturday 10am – 6pm)
Arts theatre LONDON, Great Newport Street, WC2H 7JB
For more information, visit: www.ghoststoriestheshow.co.uk