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Ghostly Goings On
Ghost Stories (London)
Member Name: JustaReviewer
Ghost Stories (London)
Advantages: It's scary, funny, enjoyable and you may want to see it again.
Disadvantages: You'll want to see it again.
I would suspect, like me, most of the people making their way into the Duke of York theatre, would have brushed off the disclaimers that adorn the tickets, websites and even the billboards outside the theatre, because how can a play be that terrifying?
Well, as I have since discovered, in the time that Ghost Stories has been out and about, first at the Liverpool Playhouse, then the Lyric Hammersmith and now the Duke of York, there are numerous accounts of people leaving after ten minutes and refusing to return, people fainting and St John's Ambulance having to be on hand. I personally sunk as far down into my seat and huddled as close to my boyfriend as possible until I was practically under his armpit. What is even sadder is that I did this ten minutes before the play even started. The reason being that the corridors that lead to the auditorium and the auditorium itself are decked out with hazard tape and random numbers chalked on the walls, a soundtrack of whistling winds and dripping water is played and all there is to light the theatre as you take your seat are dim bulbs that flicker. Yet I was still sure at that point that a play won't make me jump like a film can.
I was wrong. I jumped a lot more than I have done when watching any film, even my boyfriend, who is never scared by films, almost jumped out of his seat too. I think it was so scary because the 'things' (I don't want to give anything away), that produced the shocks were there, right in front of you, in proper 3D. It felt like you were actually watching that video from The Ring when that girl creeps out of the TV. This was only enhanced by the sounds that, in parts, whispered around the theatre, one minute coming from your left then the right and then from behind you. Then there is the smell, in one of the three vignettes that make up the play, the whole auditorium is filled with the smell of hospital disinfectant, putting you right in the middle of the action. The lighting also achieves this because as one of the characters carries his torch on his rounds of a derelict building in the early hours of the morning and another drives through woods at night with his head lights on, the light beams out not only across the dark stage but the dark auditorium so that you can't see what's going on, or what's coming next.
What was great about it was that the whole audience seemed to laugh out loud, scream and hold their breath collectively. It is like being on the biggest, best ghost train, because you do feel like you are strapped in and heading towards the events, then spun around and sped off in another direction. And yes, it is funny as well as frightening, sometimes you find yourself chuckling to the most bizarre or harrowing things. In that sense fans of The League of Gentlemen (which the plays co-writer Jeremy Dyson wrote with Reece Shearsmith, Mark Gatiss and Steve Pemberton) or Psychoville won't be disappointed, but don't go expecting a laugh a minute like you get in these sitcoms because the focus is on horror in this play. If you are a fan of Derren Brown, you won't be disappointed either as there are parts that could have come straight from one of his TV or stage shows. That's because Andy Nyman, who co-wrote and appears in Ghost Stories as parapsychologist Professor Philip Goodman, is the co-creator of them. If you have little experience of the above shows just go with it, don't take it too seriously, and you will enjoy it too.
Ghost Stories is at the Duke of York theatre in London's West End until February 2011, I highly recommend it.
Summary: Highly recommended night out, just don't go alone.
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